Monday, March 19, 2012

Art With Poetry

Yesterday, I had the distinct pleasure and honor (to use a phrase usually accompanying a speech introduction, but certainly appropriate here) of attending The Joyful Jewel's second annual Vision and Voice: The Marriage of Pen and Palette.  Marrianna is one of approximately 90 artists that display in the gallery.  Some of her work is shown on the gallery's site. 

As the introductory blurb on the gallery's web site says, "The Joyful Jewel invited writers of all ages and levels to come to the gallery, pen in hand.  They perused the gallery to see which piece of art, jewelry, or craft would inspire them.  Presentations will include the Writer Artist, the Visual Artist, and the Art!"  One writer chose a painting by Marrianna as her inspiration.  Artists and writers presented their works, artists showing the painting that inspired the writer as the poem was read and speaking of what inspired them to paint that work.

Though a few had, most of the artists and writers had never met each other.  I knew a few artists, but none of the writers.  I was surprised how many of the artists, speaking after the reading of the poem their work inspired, said that the writer had exactly captured the meaning they intended, a couple saying that the poem "nailed" it.  It's possible that they said that partially from politeness.  Who knows, and it isn't important.  There were some poems that I could not fathom how the writer's poem could possibly have come from that particular work.  There were, however, a few poems that spoke exactly the same message I got from the art.  What all that that says about me, the art, or the writer is irrelevant.  Perhaps because of the tension between art and words it inspired, it was an interesting afternoon.

There was a lot of very nice art, and it makes me particularly proud that one source of inspiration came from Marrianna's work.  Her style is unique, and her use of color a joy to behold.  Though perhaps biased, I think she is among the top artists in the gallery.  There are other very good artists, some of which I think are simply fantastic, Florence Johnson for example, but none use color better or are better artists.

Pittsboro is a small town about which is said, "You can't swing a cat without hitting an artist."  I think in this instance artist is meant to include all forms of art and craft, including writing.  Only  one writer's poem impressed me enough to seek her out after the show.  She's Michele Tracey Berger, and she writes a blog about creativity.  Speaking solely from hearing her poem yesterday and a brief perusal of her blog, she is talented and certainly well qualified to write about creativity.

I enjoy days like that.  I think it's stepping into a different frame of reference, a new perspective, that makes life interesting.

Monday, March 12, 2012

It Wont Let Me Go

I've been quilting most of the morning, and as usual my mind had been churning through thoughts completely unrelated to quilting.  I've tried to press on but, as the title suggests, the thoughts wont let me go.  As a result, here I am writing without having much idea about what to say.

The problem is with a novel I began reading last evening after 11:00 PM, a very late time for me.  I was only able to complete two chapters before I gave up and went to bed.  Even then though, the book wouldn't let me go.  I know I was awake thinking about the second chapter for at least an hour.  I should have got up and read until I finished it.

The book is "March", by Geraldine Brooks [2005, Penguin Books, New York, NY].  Usually I wouldn't write about anything after only two chapters, but this one grabbed me.  It must have done the same for quite a few folk; it's a Pulitzer Prize winner.  The premise, interesting in itself, is that the story is told by Mr. March, husband and father of the women in Louisa May Alcott's "Little Women."  In that book, he is away during the Civil War, and this one tells us where and why.

I'll not try to retell the story.  I've come upon it late and since it is a 2005 Pulitzer winner, I suppose many, if not most, have already read it for themselves.  I want to tell of the sense of shock, merged with some shame, of the cruelty of the slave owner, Augustus Clement.  I am born and, mostly, raised in the South, and as such am the recipient of many wheelbarrow loads of embellishments about slavery and how they were treated in those times.  In the stories of my youth, slaves loved their masters, and masters cared for slaves' health and welfare.  I've known that wasn't a complete story, but until recently did not try to inform myself of actual conditions.  I credit Ta-Nehesi Coates blog on The Atlantic for beginning the process of informing me that all those rosy tales of the South were mostly BS.  Ms Brooks is also teaching me in the early chapters of her novel.

In my last post, Quilting Thoughts, I wrote mush that seemed to be asking why folk in the 1600-1920 didn't rise up against the injustices of their time.  In comments, published and private, Felix wisely reminded me that in many cases they had no choice.  It's obvious that I am hopelessly ignorant of why people act as they do.  It takes shock to show me how awry my conceptions are.  I'm very grateful to Mr. Coates, Ms Brooks, and friends that have helped me to begin to see.  I'm anxious to contrinue reading March and to learn more that Ms Brooks has to teach me.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Quilting Thoughts

Obviously, regular posting has not been a priority recently.  On the other hand, I have been quilting almost daily.  I'd like to post here equally as regularly.   I meant to, but haven't done the work that is required to make it happen.  I like quilting, and find my mind cruising through many subjects as I quilt, and if I wrote something each day that I think about, I would be here much more often.  What I need to do is to somehow note whatever I'm thinking about at the quilting table, and when I move to the computer desk I'd have an idea formed for a subject.  A small jog note would do, but as I quilt I haven't taken the time to make that note.

This morning as I worked at the quilting table, a TV program that my wife and I watched seemed to be the topic of the morning.  The program is Downton Abbey.  We enjoyed it together, though Marrianna probably more so than I, and that difference is subject for this post.  What makes me uncomfortable watching programs showing wide differences of class and fortune?  I think Season One was better then Two.  Two became more of a soap opera that should be on afternoon TV, and I think when the Season Three arrives that will be even more accurate.  But that's not my subject.

In programs such as this, I usually identify with the servants much more than the "upper class."  I never watched Upstairs/Downstairs because I knew that about myself.  Also, I've not seen the current Movie "The Help" for similar reasons.  I just think the "help" was being taken advantage of in the entire book/movie.

I watched "Who Do You Think You Are?", another TV program ripped from British TV  (wait for it - I'm going to link this somehow to the announced subject.).  This program is largely an advertisement for, but I've become interested in watching people explore their ancestors.  This past week, the singer-actor Reba McEntyre searched through her mother's ancestors.  Her sixth grandfather arrived in America at the age of nine in the late 1600's, an indentured servant.  Over time he became a landowner, and the family prospered after that.  Reba wondered how the child's father could have let his son leave at such a young age, so she went to Britain to get more information.

I don't recall the gentleman's name whom she met, but he gently explained to her the facts of life in Britain in the late 1600's.  The boy was almost certainly better off as an indentured servant than he would have been in Britain at the time.  And here's where we get back to the subject.

I've often wondered why there weren't more insurrections.  Servants and feudal folk seemed to accept their life much more than I would have thought they might.  When the only solution is to essentially sell your nine year old son into what is essentially slavery, with a possible out when, and if, he reaches 21, seems to be a terrible, unbearable system.  Watching Downton Abbey's servants seem to accept their status as late as 1920 seems strange to me.

But how am I different?  I spent almost 21 years enlisted in the Air Force.  The officer-enlisted class system is equally as divided.  I accepted the differences then, and I'm sure there are almost the same now.  I never felt the impulse to complain, though there were times that I absolutely knew that I was being discriminated against because I was enlisted.  Back then, I couldn't even buy life or automobile insurance from USAA because they didn't sell to enlisted folk.  They do now, but in the 60's when I needed it, no.

I suppose I realize that there are always going to be some levels of class differences.  It isn't pretty, but it certainly exists.  I've not often pushed against the barriers, and I suppose it seems strange to be wondering why they exist now.  Maybe I should just stick to my quilting and let others change the way we all interact with one another.