Friday, January 29, 2010

In Memory of J.D. Salinger. Thank you for your words kind sir.

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -
"Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" -
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote "Don't be a ninny"
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's.
Another notes the presence of "Irony"
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
"Absolutely," they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
"Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!"
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written "Man vs. Nature"
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
"Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love."

-"Marginalia," Billy Collins

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Please do not blow."

This past weekend, I went along with my fellow Bay Area folk to celebrate a local institution's 75th Birthday, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I could not pass up free museum admission. While wading through the crowds, I came across a beautiful Alexander Calder mobile in their Anniversary Show. Being face to face with another one of his masterpieces, it reminded me of one of the foundational beliefs of why I am going into museum work.
Calder is definitely one of my more influential American artists in my canon of art favorites. He used industrial materials to create mobiles, stationary and movable. Also, his attention to color balance and fun (ie, the circus) in his work are amazing. I was first introduced to Calder's work in my Basic Art class with Mr. Dean, freshman year of high school. This was to be only one of two art classes during my tenure at Kirkwood High. Yet, it had a profound impact on me. Still to this day, those artists featured in my second semester of high school stay with me as I continue my art career. During the class, we were shown a documentary about Calder's life and work. I will never forget during one of the interviews hearing Mr. Calder say that if you ever saw one his mobiles in a museum, just give it a little blow to make it move. His mobiles were meant to move and interact with the space. So, every time I have seen one of his pieces (the St. Louis Art Museum, the Tate Modern, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art), I have given them a little blow, to just make them gracefully move. The SF MOMA was no different and I blew and made the mobile dance for a split second. I moved on to Jackson Pollack's "Male and Female," but in the distance I heard a security guard yell, "Don't blow, don't blow." I looked over my shoulder and I saw a small child trying to make the mobile move. And the child hurried back to their parents in fear. The child has now learned their lesson to never blow on a wind mobile ever again. I don't think that makes much sense, even in a museum. I will never stop blowing and will respectfully not listen to museum guards. I understand why they are there and what they are protecting. But, never stop blowing. Never stop interacting with art. The artist told me so.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In the beginning...

I have started to gather information and archive material for the first interactive I phone tour for the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. I am working under Lise Swenson (videographer/producer) and the department of education at the de Young Museum.. The tour's theme will be " Artists' representation's of the de Young." Some of the artists that will be featured will be Andy Goldsworthy, Gerhard Richter, James Turrell and Kiki Smith.

The tour consists of hours of media, HD film, images, interviews, commissioned music pieces. I hope to be able to walk everyone who reads this blog through the difficulties, successes and process. I feel like we are created a piece of art in a sense. I guess this is my own dream of being an "artist" in my own right. But, I believe that this will change how you interact with art in our world.

You will now be able to learn more than you ever were able to at a museum. This will enhance people's experience, those who choose to follow the tour (and those who have I Phones). This is the beginning of transforming museum culture that includes you. Imagine that, a museum for the people? Ironic, isn't it? Maybe it is the beginning of tearing down some of the fear and anxiety of standing in front of piece of canvas and just saying "I could do that" or "I don't understand why this is here?" You will be able to answer your own questions. There will never be enough docents or enough people who desire to educate the public in a museum, but this is the beginning to answer some of your questions.

This is only the beginning, the few owners of the I Phone. One day, I imagine people walking around museums with the I Slate (the yet un-released name of the new Mac touch-screen computer) taking self-guided, docent-led tours all with technology to enhance their experience. This isn't replacing knowledge or human interaction, it is a tool. It is a tool that will need to be checked and balanced along the way, but it is exciting no less.

Sidenote: Two of my above links are biographies provided by ART 21 on PBS. I just found it through Netflix and it is fantastic. They are hour long episodes that feature 3-5 artists in the 21st Century. It is a great tool to catch up on contemporary art, if you are so inclined.