Thursday, December 24, 2009

holy days

The seed is deep and dark and quiet. It whispers its longings, which are vague imprints from a possibly unfolding future, nothing graspable, nothing sure. It may be a marked failing that I come to this place every winter, where I pull myself back down to the seed. It contradicts the lights and music, the wrapping paper and revelry. I am as dark and unmoving as a stone, but a stone that is unfurling in microscopic leaps.

When I start writing these words I have to consider my story. Is it a story any longer, or just sporadic thoughts flung out beneath the canopy of a title, Redemption Shoes. I want to believe that the narrative, utterly complex, cannot become clear until the very last manifestation of its form expresses itself fully and is realized. Maybe its form has stages like a moth or a butterfly?

I was in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, where Redemption Shoes was born. I didn’t think of it at all, until I walked with my daughter down Washington Avenue. She is now my age when the story began, wearing boots with wooden heels that strike the flagstones with the same magical sound. I asked her if she had ever noticed this, how the sounds change on the walkways as the stone alters, history ringing out of them like ripples on the water. She has not, and maybe she has never dreamed of the Brooklyn Ferry or suddenly arrived at a strange intersection she feels distinctly she has known before.

Time is not simple. We will pass through these holy days moving through minutes and hours, or we will pass through these holy days overwhelmed by the many layers of this world drifting out like a tide and coming back and washing over us with some faraway longing to be, or never to be, realized.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Sitting on the back deck in silence at dusk, I am watched warily by the wrens who have come back again this year to build their nest above the ceiling fan. They hover nearby, but when I lower my eyes they dash furtively to the nest and out again. If I stay long enough, or lie down and close my eyes, they will begin to ignore me, but right now they are still suspicious.

Male and female wrens work together in nest building They sing different parts of the same song, usually interweaving their songs such that they sound like a single bird singing.

“The concept of maternity,” writes Bedichek. “thus daily enriched, sinks in and becomes a part of the developing child and affects his thoughts and emotions deeply for all time. Bergson comments with a striking figure of speech on the significance of maternal love. He conceives of all life as motion which possesses the consciousness most convincing as the operation of maternal love is observed in nature. ‘It shows each generation,’ he says, ‘leaning over the generation that shall follow. It allows us a glimpse of the fact that the living being is above all a thoroughfare, and that the essence of life is in the movement that is transmitted.’”

There was champagne, and brioche, and then the discussion of the sons, and then the invitation to the sons (sent via cell phone) to join us at brunch. They arrived, they ate little, and we asked the questions that had to be asked and expressed our concern. Who were we to them at that moment, I do not know. As strange of beings as they are now to us, impossible to hold, we must seem to them, something antiquated, something outdated, like so many Routes 66. The living being, as Bergson says, is, after all, but a thoroughfare. I was a road through which he travelled to ultimately arrive where he will arrive. Where that is, I cannot know.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Giambattista Nolli, Interactive Nolli Map


you are back, sort of, and I have missed you and your images & syllables.

I will tell you about a time when I was very ill. Later they would say it was meningitis, but at the time I only knew it as hell. I fell ill while reading the story of Julia "Butterfly" Hill and how she staked herself out in a very tall tree, called Luna, which was to be cut down by a logging company. During the time that the tree was wracked by a storm, I pitched in the sheets with a fever and hallucinated for days over the drama of the woman in the tree.

When I recovered I was changed and am changed and have since found myself in somewhat perpetual grieving over the accretive effects of civilization and the erosion of nature. I am in that shuddering tree every day, afflicted with some madness of urban discontent.

Your thoughts on Italy stirred me. There has been for so long in me a profound affection for civilization, at least in terms of Michaelangelo and Leonardo. The Nolli map of Rome has been a cherished icon, the spaces carved out by human desire, the slow wearing down of stone beneath flesh.

But the struggling vegetation stirs me now. The wildflowers, mentioned by Bedichek, which he noticed springing up after the bombing of London, where no flower had been for a hundred years.

That the seeds had lain fallow for so long. So silent, not stirring, yet erupting at the mere suggestion of uninhabited (by human) space.

Yesterday we stopped for a moment by the overburdens to look at the cottonwood trees that had sprung up from the sand. The trees were growing vigorously with little rain in these forsaken piles of earth. I thought of Robert Frost:

How Love burns through the Putting in the Seed
On through the watching for that early birth
When, just as the soil tarnishes with weed,

The sturdy seedling with arched body comes
Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

magical small places

Ryan Coover, watercolor

Hi Shannon,

It¹s funny that you ask to be most specific about my paintings. I can an will be now and it should shed some further light in why I am always referring to my childhood.

Ultimately I have always loved discovering new spaces and as children at play we are doing it all the time. I would cruz the beach and then find myself digging in the sand looking at each grain of sand while discovering how the crabs inhabit the sand with making holes and then how they would run to the water and dig themselves into the sand to escape danger. Then it was all the swimming and walking on the reef out front of the house again seeing a very large ocean and then zooming in and seeing how the fish eat off the reef and others animals make their home.

Then it was traveling through the miles of endless acres of sugarcane only to come across a large sand dune which resulted from when they cleared the land for planting. I would climb to the top where my views opened 360 from the closed off walk through the cane fields. This type of ³transitional² spaces are the reason I like so much action and dynamics in my work of architecture.

Now lets turn to TV since I watched more than I ever read. Two very powerful and favorites of mine and this is again due to the fact that you see the Whole then Discover more in the Mirco. (this is reflected in my art work as it pertains to my pencil work that you only notice when you get closer to the paintings)

1. The Twiddlebugs : Tina, Thomas, Teddy, and Tessie are the cute and innovative Twiddlebug family that lives in Ernie¹s flower box. They use tiny found objects for their furniture and toys.

2. Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! Very simple tale of the elephant with a big heart and big ears -- Horton can hear the tiny inhabitants of Whoville, whose miniature world is in peril -- the story is quite innocent and child-friendly.!

Both of these again influence my thoughts about space. SO I would have to say that even though you can tie my works to Nature, it¹s not where I always go for my beginnings. It¹s these magical small places found in the larger place I like to paint about.

This might get us on the right track ­ What do you think about all this ­ it is worth explaining? Will the reader think I am on drugs even thought I have never smoked pot or had a drink of alcohol? Maybe I should just say I am a drug free painter that loved his childhood. It¹s short and to the point. ;)

Monday, March 16, 2009

no feature of angels...

image by Teju Cole

This extraordinary series of passages from the Cassandra Pages with stunning photos by Teju Cole arrives to me at an interesting time. Wings are at work...

No feature of angels annoyed me more than their wings: impractical, unlikely wings, from a biological point of view entirely false. I always thought of the points of attachment and articulation, and reasoned that for a man to fly with wings on his back, he would need enormous back muscles. Angels, in most depictions through the ages, looked like men with white toy wings tacked on. They were an infantile fantasy, made to bear a spiritual burden that they were, to my eyes at least, remarkably ill-suited for. Angels were just about as relevant to my life as the preprocessed sentiment of Hallmark cards or top-forty love songs: in other words, irrelevant.