The not-so-subtle art of being a New Yorker.

There’s a not-so-subtle art about being a New Yorker. Much like a Jackson Pollock piece–every movement defines a very strong emotion; deep urge; challenged spirit; unseen possibility; thickness of character; blurred intent; desperate hope; and a thinning line of innocence–hard to understand until you really see it up close.

It may take someone smarter than you, perhaps a fellow New Yorker, to point out that Pollock is to be felt and not explained. Suspicious, as any good NY transplant will become, you walk up close to see the intense imperfections for yourself. Pictures and postcards–the second-hand accounts–do not capture the beautiful chaos of One: Number 31, 1950. Standing in the MoMa PS1, you understand Pollock’s masterpiece, and like the city that brought it to you, the allover approach is now all over you.

A closer look at this work reveals some of the decisions made in the act of painting: the selection of colors; the use of contrasting matte and glossy paints; if the lines would be thick or thin, fast or slow; whether to wait for the paint to dry or to work wet-on-wet, so that different paints bleed and pool; and a host of others. Only when the painting was completed did Pollock determine where the edges should be. In One: Number 31, 1950, Pollock left a breathing space bordering all four sides of the field of paint. However, in other paintings, the lines and spatters continue beyond the edges.–MoMa

After an unspecified amount of time has passed, you walk away with a Pollock-thick inspired aesthetic that you carry with you wherever you go–this is the art of being a New Yorker.

I can’t quite say that I understand Mark Rothko, so maybe I’ll bump into a Los Angeles transplant at the MOCA who will open my eyes to the brilliance of color.

New York, I will miss you.

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Muse and Wine

There was a bit of irony about Monday.  Sitting in a bar with a couple of friends discussing how one needed a muse.  Two wines later, a Facebook post went out – the friend sent it out into the world.

In life, I’ve found muses occupy the space in your waking life that you rarely allow yourself to be.  Between schedules, stress, here and there, the notion of a ‘muse’ is lost within the blur of day-to-day.  There’s a pulsation in life that you can be swept up in;  a vibration a little softer than a whisper that becomes louder than the world.  You can’t control those whispers of prose, but you’ll want to create poetry.  You’ve met your muse.

There’s a deeper level of discovery that comes along with a muse, which makes you want to display the collection of beauty for all to see while withholding the source of inspiration.  Not a secret, but a refusal to sell your soul.  The art is for the world, the muse for you.  A penetration to the soul, the purest form of creation, that any good muse retracts from you.  However, the motivation yours; a study in humanity.

Some find muses in people around them, in quick glances of strangers, old friends, imaginary friends, topics, famous people, inside themselves, or nature. Others are discovered by their muses – previously dormant,  waiting to be heard, poking and prodding until you see what you’ve never seen before at the end of  your glass of wine.

 

 

 

Cross Post #6: Hipsters, defined.

 

Excerpt:

“But what about their legacy?” I was recently asked by New York magazine. “What will they have left behind after it’s all said and done?” This question gets on my nerves. “Music and fashion,” I answered incredulously. Since when are young people responsible for leaving us with anything more? Have you heard their politics? I don’t want these people voting. I want them doing what they do best: Fun. The greasers were about rock ’n’ roll and making out in rumble seats. The beatniks gave us some good books, but they were mostly about shocking their parents by dancing with Negroes. The only thing the mods cared about outside of dancing and getting laid was fighting Elvis fans. Boomers, who are masters at glorifying their past, insist they stopped a war, but we all know it was Kissinger’s relentless bombing that ended it. Hippies were horny stoners. Though I was one of them, I’m happy to admit punks were more preening peacocks with guitars than anarchists smashing the state. Rap evolved from parties in the South Bronx. The list goes on, and it’s always just teenagers partying.

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Character Development

It’s an interesting thing to do—create characters.

As a child we create them outside of ourselves because we’re like blank canvasses without our own markings. Slowly we start scribbling and experimenting with color, and we spend a great amount of time creating ourselves—the main characters. Some people have trouble coming to terms with who they are as the main character, so they spend their time developing other characters, whom they mix like colors into the palate that is life. The minor players, however, are just as important in life; music needs harmonies just as it needs the lead, and together they make a song.

The same is true in writing: in order to create a good protagonist, a writer must give that character a supporting cast—the people who teach the protagonist new things, influence him/her, shape the story arc in some subtle but driving way—including an antagonist, which requires a complex understanding of the protagonist and can be the hardest character to create. However, the antagonist often offers up the best lessons for the protagonist. Maybe these lessons take place just for a reflective moment, or perhaps they change the pace of everything, but how the main character changes because of it is the ultimate question.

Real life works the same way, I think. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent my entire life dissecting all aspects of who I am, and out of nowhere I’ll do something out of character. What does it mean? Why did I do it? Who or what triggered it? It’s easy to see these things spill out into the story from others, but to really know yourself and to know the lesson from which it is triggered…well, it takes a lot of inner dialogue and supporting characters to work it out.

In my writing, I love the minor/support characters because I’ll see little bits of myself in every one of them, even the villain. In these characters, I find my great-grandmother, my co-workers, my siblings, the hippie from Los Angeles who taught me about karma, or other various people who have left imprints on my own life. Without these people immortalized in the pages of books, or in life, what kind of story would I really have but a flat narrative—or a boring biography, perhaps?

Ernst Fischer said, “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” They say what makes art beautiful is its imperfections, and the subtle pauses in sound is what makes good music. I, for one, like learning about those imperfections in myself on and off the page. After all, in life you can climb up a mountain to look inside, but eventually you have to come down that mountain and apply what you’ve learned.

One of my favs…

Edward Hopper

The long snowy road of this week…

In Awe…

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