Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Injury Atopia Aporia Suk.

When uninjured, you never see an injury coming. when injured, you never see it passing. i'm living off advil, sweets, fish and chips, watching the tour de france by morning and sunday in hell by afternoon, and i'm craving an ease of motion which does not come. healing is an intrusive thing. jammed back grinds guts no matter what posture I contort towards. blah blah.  
meanwhile josef suk was a composer and string virtuosi from czechoslovakia whose music explored a wide range of emotional textures but the first few pieces I ever heard held that horror-vice of the war-era art, equal to the soviet composers of that time. i did not realize his recent death (early june?) but i heard an excerpt of a violin concerto today, sawing out some nice melodies which would then freefall into staccato reels of bitter whining & shrieking to build back the layers of a robust sonic boast. The tones moved fluidly, wholesome and moody. i remembered the box set of suk's chamber compositions, a local music store had it for months and i was always saving to purchase it. a yellow box accented by some design on the perimeter, his portrait in the center, a slavic grimace, wide face and stern eyes, the delicate carving of a violin's tune-keys by his cheeks. i never purchased it, buying instead gould's bach, bartok or mahler, paint or drink, but I can visualize the set now. parenthesised with stravinsky, shostakovich, schnittke, schumann. . . . the mad greats. put on some suk and pick up the red calvary stories of babel, some nabakov or chekov, (my wife would swear on dost's notes from the underground but you need a good translation), boil the coffee dark, add sugar and/or schnapps and you've got a fine winter ahead. Music makes struggle and suffering a savory thing.
Lucian freud. Dead at the age of 88 years. Freud is a hero to me, equal to de Kooning. His handling of the nude, his choice of model, his torn upholstery couch and the piles of rags, a ragged cot, his impasto brushwork, the range of palette in a single painting, hell-- in a single leg! The definitive modern figurative artist-- conflicted, voracious, angry, horrified, disciplined, precise. Poetic. The lyrical forms of street sluts of london. Junkies with purple cocks. Royalty. Broken actors with their long torsos slumping in sleep. Blue limbs of weariness. Cold studio morning light. Interrogation light. A pale plant, a pale coat. The backyard of a london apartment house. Blue veins of a model harmonize with the blue veins of the hardwood floor.
A few years ago, the MoMA hosted a show of etchings by Freud. The exhibit also marked Freud's longtime use of certain models. Several preparatory drawings were included, and interspersed were paintings of those models (some famous and godly, some homely, some anemic and atrophied), a marvelous show of draftsmanship. I remember the strong marks of grease pencils, the muscled pull of burnt-bone black forming the contours of a swollen stomach. Hatching like a madman's topographical map, but distinctly massed. Technically sound.  Something sublime contained beneath a rage.
(Freud's longtime friend Francis Bacon had recently died, his liver devoured by drink and turpentine and a combative life. A theater of nirvana:  Baudelaire Twombly Rodin Freud Bacon de Koooning Turner Michelangelo and Rembrandt, kicking back with coffee and talking shop. Foucault and Wittgenstein and Kierkegaard.  Shostakovich Suk Dvorak discussing politics, cello accompaniment. An atopia of remembrance and passion.)
A good friend of mine used to wait on Freud at his restaurant in London. Lee would describe him as such: He wore a belt of old rope. He ordered oysters and a demi-bottle of pouilly fumee. His fingers were caked with paint and charcoal. he would sketch his lunch away on paper napkins that he would then shove in his pocket as he paid the bill. Quiet and elegant. Contemplative. But he always took his napkin drawings.
beethoven's appasionato piano sonata and storms pass as kyote sleeps. i'm flipping through a book on rodin and admiring the straight eroticism of his work. to work, one must be in love. only then is the work credible. beyond love however, one can work in bursts off of lust, but it is an inefficient fuel. highly combustible and dangerous to handle. But sometimes its what one possesses:  Marvelous red fugues. Scars of touch on clay, touch of canvas. Clay, body.  Ether.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Paintings by Deborah Petoskey at Caprice Bistro

Local artist Deborah Petoskey will hang her work at Caprice Bistro for a couple of months, starting the first Thursday of August. While she works in many disciplines, this show will focus on her paintings.

According to her website, she creates art because, “Like breathing in and out, the creative soul finds itself in need of something more.” She appears to be a roaming spirit that wants to explore and expand things. She wants to be intrigued and to intrigue, and thus her art.

Petoskey savors spontaneous moments of paint and enjoys the details of a work. She sees the compositional pulleys move with visual weight, and she balances blocked planes of near-monochrome against charged paint-quilt areas. She gets involved in the nuanced spaces, operating in the smaller frames that converge towards the larger ones. Her process works through and against a sequence of material/idea application, interspersing language with urban & architectural references. Layers of masking offset a build-up of surface, a Benton-like push/pull effect, and she frequently achieves moments of good paint-handling. There is a joy in effect presented here, if somewhat raw. Unity wrestles dissolution as bold linework maps the stages of the canvas. Early Pollock comes to mind, maybe a note of Klee or Mondrian's experimental drawings.

Petoskey's compositions are abstract, whether one focuses on a section or steps back from the painting, and they satisfy in their nonobjective state. The paintings feel natural in their flux. The variety in scale and palette, even style, will allow for several visits throughout the duration of the show. Give them one chance and you'll give them several.

Caprice Bistro will host the exhibit of paintings in the Upstairs Sofa Lounge. The opening will be Thursday August 4th From 7pm until 9pm.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

an early morning run & brief requiem-

abbey nature preserve was the trail and i beat the quads into a lactic-coma in just five miles and the smoke from northern fires still smells strong and mingles with the new and early humidity and together it makes for a tough cycle of breath.  while the mind was working the body and the smoke was working the throat/lungs, the run was burning the upper legs, a sort of lurching, hard pain in the thighs and hip flexors.  IT bands are taut and unwilling.  gmm is still freshly carved into bone and musclemass and the tears of 26 miles take some time to heal but i am impatient.  so i kept up the run, thinking of the derby 50k for the saturday following thanksgiving, my next big organized run, thinking of the bull run run 50 miler, mt mitchell challenge, trying to conjure goals that might keep pushing one foot in front of the other. . . . i thought of a painting, and did not want to paint.  i was thinking of the fugue of the run, the fact that i've been running forever, at least on some interpretive level. but really i was still reliving the grandfather mountain run, the running around the asu track, the holloway's mountain passage, the personal meaning of the run, the accomplishment of the trial by endurance, my mother's disbelief when i finished, my wife's pride, my own myriad of feelings, but i still did not conquer all of my regrets.  so i continue running such that i may one day outrun the angst.

otherwise i was thinking of twombly's recent death and his reclusive nature, his erratic launches of fresh canvas into international galleries and museums, his quiet studio work shaking the rigmarole and ridicule that makes for the artworld chatter and twombly made marks, read his ancient texts, hiked the hills of greece, bicycled rome with eyes tuned to the elusive ghosts of that geographic nexus, sought a refinement of a private language in a world obsessed with something more generic and PC.  he scratched philosophical passages of colour into the cakebatter painthandling of the 70's art scene, mocked the pastorales of other field painters, followed his own aesthetic from one series to the next.  dissed rauschenberg's more pop-oriented imagery with pre-graffiti psalms.  blooms of love.  the blackboard paintings.  the paper collages.  the rome paintings.  his paintings celebrate the delirium, the manic juggling of the modern psychology, a funneled, infinitely rich, infinitely nurtured, visual curiosity.  his scrawl is some of the most honest, some of the most purely modern work, reaching back through the ages via the collective unconscious, back into a wolfwomb of birth, back into the mire of nonlife, the choking horror of first breaths, the ideograms of new eyes and the cursive of sex-postures. twombly nailed it and i hope his heaven is a heaven indeed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

grandfather mountain marathon.

this was my family sighting at mile 26.15 of grandfather mountain marathon! behind me, the highland games bagpipe and clog, sling blocks of cement or logs, herd sheep, carry broadswords. . . 

my family and i took some time to be family this weekend, driving six hours through severe storms to the blue ridge mountains to plop down with my mom & john (known henceforth as mammie and pa).  pa had prepared homemade meatballs with a meat sauce, ladelled over pasta, and i had my first friday night meal with my wife and son in nine months.  we had tea and stories and a restful evening as the mountains tucked deep in torrential downpours.  heavy cascades continued and the night fell leaden and sleepless as i rolled and twisted before the prescribed 4h55am alarm.  i was a bit wound up because this was to be the morning of my first road marathon, of my first marathon ever.  this was the morning of my grandfather mountain marathon.  and i was more than a little apprehensive about the 3000' of elevation between appalachian state university track and the mcrae fields where the highland games shared the dirt track for the ~450 registrants to complete the work.

the start on the track, fully lit in the predawn green-gray light, wound up one full loop and then spiralled through the gate and out into the boone streets.  runners talked across the leg-warming first two miles until the road clung against the first climb. and the climb was the story for the next five miles. and then down, which was no reprieve as the descent punished quads like a jackhammer and one could feel the femur-bones bending beneath the gravity of the quick descent.  and the run became the work of the run for a while.  clips of music in the mind, brief and truncated; thought-phrases not entirely coherent.  guts lurching inside heaving ribs and the back pushing into the gallop and then the tight-cut roadcurves and the x-slope work awkwardly the musculature of the foot, throbbing IT bands and knees and then a thinning rope of runners bob back up the mountain. shull's mill road.  lucidity would lapse into rambling, then an interesting conversation would start up with another runner, and then the running effort would recommence, quiet and serene, or with silent angst. to transcend.  self-reliance.  to run something that years ago seemed nonsensical and absurd.  mantras reminding us of the goal.  short breaths and short strides.
and the volunteers were top-notch, one group cut think hunks of watermelon as we entered a gravel road.  this steep road would gnaw my guts on the ~3 mile incline to the parkway, and the parkway allowed easy breath with its warm-white mountain laurel and rockstacked creeks and then a small waterfall on the rockface off of 221 into the final five miles of scorched-leg-muscle, staccato bursts of determination, rachmoninoff running, and power-hiking and running onward to grandfather mountain's entrance where the whole thing cut through the songs of bagpipes and ended on the dirt track, my chest heaving against the thinner air and my body unsure of things then the sight of wife and son and my applauding mother standing and elated and proud.  the time clock reads 3h 48m 30sec.

the highland games was the destination, and if shit wasn't strange before you ran 26 miles, try running into the second largest highland games in the world.  i mopped off and changed shirts and walked with the family through the campgrounds while browsing kilts and caps, haggis and shepherd pies, rugby jerseys, rosetta stones.  i then sat, heavy legs and heavy eyes, savoring a freshbaked scone built up with strawberries and whipped cream, lapping hot coffee while watching scottish guys drop bass-thud slams as they wrestled near sheep-herding terriers.  it was a marvel, a strange thing, and the bagpipes played through the fog of midmorning humidity and the final breaths of campfires and we boarded a bus with other runners who were already discussing the next race registration.  madness.

i met some wonderful runners, and i thank them for their time shared on the roads. some very positive spirits embark on these journeys, and i am grateful to get to know them. one was a young man from virginia beach whose father, a diabetic, was experiencing a sugar-drop several miles behind us.  they both finished strong.  another was from charleston, a quiet, lone guy whose bus ticket had decomposed in his running pocket.  i ran early with a guy from cullowhee who ran mostly alone in the trails of western north carolina.  my friend mark sported a deep green kilt. there was the quiet figure on the bus who wore the umstead 600 mile club hat:  he smiled behind his sunglasses, knowing some secret nexus.  and the wiry man talking up the flatlander marathon the next day, starting in downtown boone, and the emphatic nods of agreement as he explained "its really not as hard as you think to do a back-to-back marathon.  just go home and sit in an ice bath and show up tomorrow morning."  sorry i missed it gentlemen, maybe a rain check.

i commend the RD on a fine race and a great course.  the volunteers were admirable and joyful, and they kept me believing in the abstracts that go into something like this. i fully extend my gratitude to their good acts.  a big thank you to the park rangers who kept us safe.  the use of the track at asu was amazing, and the highland games welcoming us onto their dirt track was surreal and dazzling.  thanks to all who brought those logistics into coordinated fluid action.

thanks to my family for hosting my manic ideas and for nurturing them into actionable work.

important to me personally was the start, which was just below the window of my freshman dorm, and the passage of hard miles, the processing of time and choices and life-paths, the meditation of movement, the poetry of distance, erratic, unpredictable, capricious, raging.
near the start, the asu art department, wey hall, just around the bend of asphalt, a longlost thing, but i remember like yesterday smoking in the back door on break from life drawing and drinking a cranberry-apple juice and talking to james and jen and feeling an emphatic promise. an illuminated drive, faith, clean like snow.  the body and soul reeling with the grand architecture of youth and naivitee.  a cathedral of possibility is the young mind.
important to me was the finish:  my family, my pride in accomplishment, my freedom of health, my expansion of self to include new accomplishments.  my stability and the ability to dance within a framework.

the world will rage against your passions, stripping the mind to a clot of stagnant language, thieves and fifteenth-rate ideas, imposing dimensionless servility, but you must rage back.  rage with the joy of the divine.  rage with the passion of survival.  rage with legs and eyes and mouths and hands.  rage with love.


privately, i kept thinking of this as "my little mt mitchell challenge."  that was the run i read about some six years ago that started my fascination with long distance, the mad ascent of mt. mitchell for twenty miles, touching the february summit, then turning back for a twenty mile descent home. a grueling, man-versus-nature-versus-man, raw-ass running, ascetic-gut challenge.  it is a very difficult run to acquire entry into.  but, if not entry into the ultra, there is the junior version, the black mountain marathon, which might just be the thing.  there is also the derby 50, the bull run run 50, and the umstead 50/100. . . . who knows.  for now, back to the daily runs, the scribbles, the coffee stain drawings and the rebuilding of layers of muscle.
a used bicycle at a local shop-- 450 dollars.  worth it? i dunno.  ~2007  allez sport.   the current consideration.
so, above is the newest addition to my considerations:  a road bike.  an interest in cycling has dawned as the summer heat erradicates my energy, draining me empty on 40 mile weeks.  thus far i've ridden a 1997 fuji finest, a 2010 giant defy 3, the above allez, and i am going to try a surly cross-check if i can find a 56" frame.  cycling seems like a great way to cover distance when time doesn't permit the slower pace of running. we shall see.