Muses

 

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I could look at pictures of you all afternoon or
videos. Maybe it’s
The way you stare at the camera, bare or
even when you look away. You’ve got some kind of smize and

Sinewy arms and
stark tattoos and
dimples beneath beard hair and
time ticks away and still I could
crawl over every millisecond of your exposure.

I keep thinking of Patricia Arquette in
True Romance (you know the movie, with
Christian Slater and
Elvis and
Gary Oldman – I know I never recognize him, either)
and she coos at Clarence,
“You’re so cool. You’re so cool.”

Widow peaks and
combat boots and
knuckles, wrinkled and worn despite your youth and
dirty and beautiful.

And I keep humming Tigers Jaw, that one song that Ben
sings and he coos at me
“It’s a cruel world / but it’s cool” and

You and I I think we think the
same but somehow sometimes things get trapped in the
space in between and it’s like
we talk in different dialects, but still that’s ok –
it’s cool

because you radiate in my world and I can’t explain why but
I think, I don’t know, but I think I don’t know if I could handle more of you.

Coming up for air

….Hi guys.

It’s, ah, it’s been a while. You look good! I know, I know, I never call, I never write. Life’s been busy as shit lately, 95% of it for the right reasons. I’ve been swept up in work and various career-related pursuits. I went to my first museum-related conference, I presented my own research at a conference for the first time, and I’m quickly becoming proficient in setting up and running tents at booze festivals, as well as orchestrating cider sales, drink in hand. It’s very stressful. Constantly thrust into a situation where I don’t innately know how to do something, constantly having to wing it until I get the hang of *insert random task here*… but it’s good. Despite the occasional frustrations, and the wavering confidence in the face of novice-hood, it’s good. All of these instances are like little building blocks, and I’m slowly constructing a valuable skill set. And even though I often feel like an idiot, I’m trying to remind myself that soon, I won’t.

So… obvi the job front has stabilized… I now have 3, count ’em, 3 gigs. The museum is the bulk of my time and energy. Oh how I wish the cold card cashola would rain down as much as the career experience, but thems the breaks. Luckily, living in a small town means (apparently) that word-of-mouth is actually a thing. My director got me in touch with the campus box office, and our education and public outreach guy directed me toward a local cider bar. Much like a Millet-ian gleaner, I’m trying to cobble together enough work to make ends meet, and slowly whittle away at the mountain of debt I’ve incurred since graduate school. The cider bar is a particularly fun extra: I’m back in the food and beverage industry (which I missed!), I get to tend bar, learn about making cider (which I like exponentially more, now), and simultaneously work and enjoy area food and drink festivals. At the last one, I made friends with some like minded punks at three beards brewing, and orchestrated a sale/collaboration with Rusty Rail! BOOM!  L’s is crushin’ it!!

Overall, I’d rather be busy than not, but of course having my hand in so many fires… pots… how does that expression go? No time to Google – soldier on! – can be at least confusing, at worst exhausting.  I’ve always been on the scatterbrained side of the mental organization spectrum. That predilection only intensifies as more balls come into my court (Jeez, I’m all over the place with those spinning phrases today – ha, see what I did there?). Ergo, keeping focus on the task at hand is difficult when half of my attention is trickling onto the next 5 things on my to-do list. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of a short attention span seem to be affecting my writing most of all. Not only do I feel as though I have no time to write, but any time I do carve out, well, case in point: I’m trying to write this post while in the back of my mind I’m considering what to make for dinner, when to go to the gym, the million little projects for the museum, finances, and whether I can swing subleasing my apartment to move in with a buddy to further gain a foothold over the aforementioned monies.

I guess that’s everyone’s life. We’re all constantly being pulled in a million different directions. It bothers me so much, though, because of a seemingly innocuous assumption that strangers make when they meet me and find out what I do:

Person A: *sips cocktail* “So what do you do?”

Me: “Oh I work at an art museum as a curatorial fellow at the moment, I want to be a curator.”

Person A: “Oh, so you’re an artist?”

Me: *ashamed* <– (but why??) “Oh, no, haha. I can’t draw or paint well or anything.”

Person A: ……

Me: *takes big ol’ slurp of cocktail* “I mean, I like to write, that’s my main creative pursuit.”

….Are you pickin up what I’m puttin down? I know that part of that assumption stems from people who don’t have an intricate understanding of what curators do, but it’s still not all that far from the truth. Most curators I’ve met started as visual artists in some form or another, and their careers evolved as such. It makes me feel like a bit of an impostor that I’ve never been very artistically inclined (that gift fell to my sister). That I enjoy writing is not a stretch, either. I like to tell stories, whether I’m crafting a post, surrounded by friends at the bar, or creating an exhibit. I like to verbally explore the nuances of our humanity and how they inform the intricate nature of our relationships to each other. But…. when I don’t feel like I have time to devote my chosen craft, or I can’t maintain my attention to it when I do make the time… well, then can I honestly say that when someone asks? Plus, I take intense pride in whatever it is I choose to do; whatever it is, I want to be good at it. I’m not that a great of a writer at this point, but the only way I’ll improve is to keep plugging… and yet it’s become clear that I’m not determined to keep it a priority… so what does that mean??

I was particularly distressed by that brain train the past few weeks (incidentally, during that giant gap you’ll notice between this post and my previous one). Luckily, my friend group in this town has quite the creative bent, be it visual art, film, acting, music, etc etc. I finally admitted my fraudulent feelings to the University’s resident print-making TA. Thank goodness, she knew exactly what I was talking about! “Think of it like writer’s block,” she said. “Sometimes you have to step away and funnel those creative juices into something else for a little bit. That’s totally normal, don’t worry.” As I pondered her much appreciated words of wisdom, their relevance rang truer and truer. Maybe the writing has taken a backseat, but I’m still creating! I’m learning guitar (finally!), I’m cooking so much more than I have in years (the fruits of my labor to follow soon, perhaps, gentle readers). I’m even crafting a teensy bit, in an effort to live on the cheap as creatively as possible. And, um, DUH – my job, my chosen profession, is about as creative as you can get. I guess that’s a transition I haven’t acclimated to yet, but when I finally realized that, I got kind of excited. My storytelling will most certainly continue, I’ve merely adopted a new medium! Eeek – perhaps, in a way, I am an artist (of sorts)!

Another ego bruise of the interpersonal variety came nipping at the heels of the dip in my professional confidence. The short version is, I snagged attentions from someone who was utterly and hilariously out of my league for a hot minute, there. It had no long term potential, and so pragmatically I knew the situation would run its course. Well, it did. The severance was perfectly amiable, but it was still a form of rejection, if a mild sauce, baby kinda one.

I will always have shaky self-esteem, I think. I’m a real sensitive gal who constantly needs reminding of her worth to the world. So I was a little bummed (Plus, the lower half of my mug looks like it’s eating itself right now; thanks perioral dermatitis, argh. C’mon, Face! You’re not helping!). However, I handled it as I initially intended to handle it. Calmly. While 2012-2014 L’s would have flown off the handle or self-destructively wallowed, 2015 L’s retreated a bit, licked her wound, slapped a band aid on that bitch, and got over it. My emotional sea refused to form a tempest… and that… that was an immense relief.

For the past few years I felt out of control of myself, completely at the mercy of the external world, that harsh mistress, that sadist. But these days? I feel…. I feel normal again. It almost chokes me up when I think about it, because I was so afraid that I would never, ever feel that way again. I thought that’s just how I would be, and I hated myself because of that expectation. I now know from personal experience that self-hatred viciously affects how we handle, well, everything. The negativity becomes cyclical: we hate ourselves, which in turns influences a string of crappy choices, and then we hate ourselves even more when we reflect on those choices. I wish I knew how to break that cycle. I’m not sure what changed for me… I guess I just had to dig through some crazy, and eventually break through to the other side. I don’t miss it, but I don’t think I’d go back and change it, even if I could. All those little things that happen to us build who we are. We’re all just walking parfaits, chock full of sweet and savory, and perhaps some salty, layers.

Anyways, to top off this all-over-the-place post, I finally had a day off yesterday!! I rolled over at noon, jumped out of bed in my birthday suit and shouted, “Today, I am beholden to NO ONE!!” I took a luxuriously long time to leave my apartment. I painted my toes (who cares if they’ll be hidden beneath boots for the foreseeable future!), listened to the latest episode of my new favorite podcast Lore (it’s perfect for a pre-Halloween atmosphere, go listen to it! go now, I’ll wait!), I scoured Target’s clearance rack for lacy underthings (these days I can only justify a purchase of a *new* clothing item if it falls in the underwear category). I found my favorite seasonal brew at Weis, and spent the afternoon in the company of new friends on a sunlit porch.

And now? Here I sit, finally putting in some quality time with you, gentle readers. No, I suppose things aren’t that bad, at all. ❤

Current Jam: “Bad Blood” Ryan Adams cover of T-Swift. I have been listening to this entire album since it came out… had I gotten off my ass and posted something sooner, this wouldn’t seem so behind-the-pulse. Oh well.

Why art is important

As if I’d even need to provide an explanation for that… but, in a world where STEM fields get the majority of attention while us art history majors and our academic cousins in the humanities are scoffed at and written off as extraneous subjects, I think my manifesto needs a chapter on this…. nay, it requires it.

It’s funny; according to my parents I never talk about why I do what I do, why I love what I do. As we sat conversing with a couple from Austria/Switzerland over dinner in Venice, the man Rolf asked me what I study. I was a few glasses of wine deep by that point in the evening, and I guess I get a little more passionate and expressive under its influence. My face flushed as I veritably gushed to Rolf, about how art is this amazingly beautiful amalgamation of creativity and history, of self-expression and expression of the world as one sees it. It goes beyond history; it does things history could never accomplish. Because history is the story of us, that’s true; but it lacks that personal element. That visual element which connects us through time, through generations. I can read about the Haussmannization of Paris all I want; about how its citizens felt nervous, almost fearful, at how their city was changing literally before their eyes, and how that change was one of many that fundamentally altered their conception of society, even reality. Or, I could look at Degas’ Dans Un Café, and with no words spoken feel that sense of isolation, even when one is surrounded by people.

Edgar Degas, Dans Un Cafe
Edgar Degas, Dans Un Cafe

Yes, I’m a modernist. 19th century France, and increasingly 19th/early 20th century American art are my favorite areas to study. But truthfully, I discovered modern art after I began my art historical journey. My freshman year of college I took an intro art appreciation course. And then I saw the two sculptures that made me want to dive in whole-hog: The Winged Nike of Samothrace, and Michelangelo’s Pietà:

Winged Nike of Samothrace, now in the grand staircase of the Louvre.
Winged Nike of Samothrace, now in the grand staircase of the Louvre.

God just look at her!! No, really, LOOK. She is absolutely breathtaking. She was discovered in 1863, and is dated to around 200-190 BC. She was built to commemorate a sea battle, as well as honor the goddess Nike, aka the goddess of victory. She is an excellent example of Hellenistic sculpture; note how her flowing drapery not only appears to cling to her skin, but to billow as if caught in the wind. She is portrayed at the exact moment in which she lands, her foot barely touching the stone outcropping, her upper body still in flight. When you think about how the scupltor, cited to be Pythokritos of Lindos, was able to capture such a brief moment so utterly successfully, so naturalistically… every time I think about it it just blows my mind out the back of my skull.

I finally got to see her in 2009, while I was studying abroad in Paris. I saw her from afar as I approached the grand staircase, and my heart started pounding… and let’s face it, I cried. I cried because art can pull that emotion from almost anyone…. except perhaps sociopaths. It can elicit a powerful, almost violent emotion in all of us, one that we can’t always explain or make tangible. It is that intensity which, I believe, connects us as humans. It separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, and I think that connection can bolster empathy, just as I hope in it’s own small way my writing does. I think empathy is a vital human emotion. It is akin to love and yet not quite so volatile.

Michelangelo’s Pieta, located in St. Peter’s basilica, Vatican City

OH GOD WOULDYA JUST LOOK AT IT?! <(Sorry, I had to).

This sculpture was made by Michelangelo Buonarroti during the years 1498-1499. He was only 22 or 23 when he made it, and being a bit of a pompous up-and-comer, this was the only piece he ever signed (On a strap across Mary’s chest is inscribed in latin, “Michelangelo made me”). This sculpture depicts the moment in which Christ is removed from the cross after the crucifixion and placed in Mary’s arms. His face doesn’t depict several injuries received during the Passion, and Mary herself looks quite young to be the mother of a 33-year-old man. It has been cited that Michelangelo did not want his version of The Pietà to represent death, but rather to show the religious vision of abandonment and a serene face of the Son. Mary’s youthful depiction, it is believed, is connected to her everlasting purity as the virgin mother. Michelangelo is also known to have said that he did not create his sculptures. Rather, he was charged with the task of releasing the sculpture, as it already existed within the slab. He simply removed what was not supposed to be there, in order to liberate the beauty set there by God.

I saw her during my trip to Italy with my parents. And despite the crowd of tourists constantly elbowing me to get a picture of her (which I thought ridiculous; she’s behind glass now so frankly any image you take there pales in comparison to a professional shot), I stood and stared, my elbows leaning against the railing. And, again, like a baby, I cried. I cried because she is so beautiful, and the idea that a human hand, a human mind created her is stunning. Though the Renaissance is not my area of preference, words cannot express how much I love Michelangelo. For all his faults, he truly was a genius. When I saw a bronze bust of him in the Accademia, his old brow furrowed in thought, I wanted to kiss him. Instead, I whispered to his spirit in my head and said, “thank you, so much, for all you gave to this world. For the beauty that you released, we are eternally grateful.”

So, THAT, my friends, is why art. is. important. Suck on that engineering! 🙂

Current quote: “Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” -Kurt Vonnegut

Ritual

So I’m taking a medieval architecture course this spring, but it’s a bit atypical. Instead of breaking down formal architectural progression throughout the middle ages: Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic etc etc, the professor is more interested in waxing philosophical on the experience and use of space. Such a notion encompasses many aspects of our lives that we don’t normally think about: why do we organize the space the way we do? We, as humans, tend to use space to create order out of cosmic chaos, structure out of disarray. We’ve been reading, not art history, but sociology, anthropology and archaeology. We just finished a book called The Social Logic of Space, by Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson. The goal of their text is the application of a workable theory in order to understand 2 primary schema: the social logic of space, and the spatial logic of society. They argue that our organization of space, both interior and exterior, is not random, but follows a set of (admittedly bendable) rules. It’s possibly the most complicated way you can investigate simple concepts such as, where is the door, and why is it there and not there? Why is a neighborhood organized the way it is? How does your ability, or hindrance, of access inform your status within your culture? It’s a dense. ass. text, but it’s one of those books that I plan to keep and re-read on occasion, because I’m convinced I’ll get more out of it each time I peruse its pages.

Hillier and Hanson mention another notable figure in anthropology, Victor Turner, and his book The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure. His approach is more concerned with a given culture and its design and practice of interpersonal connections, how things like rites of passage and ritual affect these social structures. Our professor assigned this to get us thinking how this theory might inform and influence spatial design choices. The concept of ritual also permeates many aspects of our lives, from profound religious practice, to the more mundane….. like getting ready for a date! Yes, I was in fact performing the latter ritual when the implications of the practice struck me. For me, it’s a simultaneous soothing and exciting preparatory act. It’s when I indulge in a longer, more luxurious shower. I’ll devote the extra time to consider the impression I wish to make via my appearance. What will I wear; what kind of …..image? do I wish to project? I take extra care with my makeup (a full 10 minutes instead of my rushed 5). I use my ‘special’ perfume. I take that extra minute in the mirror, choosing my jewelry.

It seems like a ‘duh’ proclamation, but have you ever asked yourself why you have certain routines? Why you do the things you do? How much are you influenced by outside factors? Go on, complicate it! I find that it’s a thought process that, surprisingly, functions much like self-discovery. And the cool thing about that, is it can eventually provide a window to your inner core, or you aura, or you soul, whatever you wanna call it. It can be upsetting, no one’s infallible, but it can be very helpful and rewarding. It’s not an easy process, don’t get me wrong. When I jump down that rabbit hole I usually find myself with a tissue clutched in one hand, and my biffl on speed dial should things get too intense.  To seriously ponder why you make certain choices can help you define which choices are caustic to your physical and mental health, to your happiness. At the end of the day, I try to force myself through the arduous practice because I, like most people I would wager, just want to be happy. And a big chunk of being happy, is loving your gifts and accepting your faults.

Current Jam: “99 Problems” Jay-Z 

In case you were wondering what art historians do…

This.

And this.

And we’re all totally like this.

Note: I totally can’t take credit for anything funny I find on the interwebs. The imgur gem was courtesy of a fellow classmate’s hubs, the tumbler/facebizzle group from another more informed, funnier classmate than me.

What can I say, I’m totally a humor poser. I steal everyone else’s jokes.

Current Jam: Dillinger Four Pandora station. (FEST IS ALMOST HERE).

Damn, I sound smart!

I’m reading through my old papers to determine which (un?)lucky ones will be submitted as writing samples for good ol’ grad apps. I came across a paper I wrote on Barnett Newman, a contemporary artist who was…. intriguing and complicated, to say the least. I remember the joke I made as I turned the paper in: people would ask what I wrote about, and I would giggle and say, ‘I have no fucking idea’. I was frustrated by contemporary art at first. I found the aesthetic evolution following the second World War annoying, pompous even. With the advent of photography and a profound, fresh tragedy at their heels, postwar artists were eager to do away with the Western ideal of artistic representation. It suddenly became about the idea, not about the image. It wasn’t the artist’s talent, but their inherent originiality. God, what a cop out, I remember thinking. And yet, you have artists like Barnett Newman, like Mark Rothko. Their genius exists in the very simplicity of their work. You could spout that it doesn’t take an artist to paint two different colored blocks next to each other, but then you may never have experienced a Rothko properly exhibited, or at all. The right visual placement, the correct lighting; He can have this beautiful effect on your soul. It’s like enveloping your heart in warm, vanilla-scented cream… ha at least that’s how I envision it, because I’m a food fatty. And Newman, though exceedingly intellectual in his work, almost to a contradictory fault, manages to portray a singular moment of time in a thin line of paint. You may have no idea who he was, but if you saw Onement I, you would still get the sense of a beginning… perhaps the moment of creation? Ah-mazing.

Anydangways, I myself am having a pompous moment so I’m posting this ol’ pape for ya. LOOK AND MARVEL AT MY BRAINS MWAHAHAHAHAHA:

Continue reading “Damn, I sound smart!”

Narcissus… what a jerk.

I wouldn’t consider myself a narcissistic person. At best, I’m extremely self-aware and introspective. I have a long history of self-criticism, like the majority of self-loathing females plagued by media attraction guidelines. Blah blah blah, we’ve heard it a million times before. That being said, I have these occasional moments (more like stretched to minutes) of admiration for my form. They usually arrive after hours, under the soft glow of a bedside lamp. Last night I found myself contorting my figure in the mirror for a good 10 minutes, just… contemplating. My body has changed a bit since my teenage years, and it never ceases to amaze me how my utter digust at 16 has blossomed into mere occasional annoyance at 26.

NO, I wasn’t masturbating. God, get your mind out of the gutter. This isn’t soft core porn. My visual exploration was triggered by another photography class. As I am taking a digital, pas film, class this time, I get access to the studio and get to learn some lighting techniques and more about photoshop, both of which I’m excited about. The structure is the same as the one before: 3 projects, 1 technical, 1 portraiture, 1 still life.

Portraiture has always been my favorite, although I don’t have quite the passion for fashion photography. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s beautiful partially because the people are stereotypically perfect. Doesn’t seem like as much of a challenge to me. I prefer to work with average joes (Not that I have access to a plethora of super models, but you know what I mean). I like to discover how beautiful people can be without perfect noses and oodles of makeup. To be lovely just because they are. To pull it out of them, even when they resist. That’s perfect, to me. That’s the best part. Let me know if you wanna join in. Don’t be scared, trust me. 🙂

In the mean time, I’ll be pondering self-portraiture.  That’s part of the assignment, unfortunately. I prefer to be behind the camera, as I don’t feel I’m particularly photogenic. I have my moments, but they are few and far between. Usually I just look weird and all light-defracted. I tried some mild nudity the last time I had this task at hand. I wanted something pure and real, but I couldn’t get it right. I couldn’t portray the beauty I felt must be inside. I wanted a cross between Robert Mapplethorpe and this one photo fro Lillian’s (but I’m totes blanking on the artist; look at this pic: it’s the woman’s hip, upper left of the photo).

This time, however, I’m even more determined. Fingers crossed, here’s hoping.

Current Jam: “Tip of the Tongue” The Donnis Trio