Thursday, August 5, 2010

True North

Last night our harbor was socked in the fog which glowed pink, green, yellow.  Beyond, above the fog bank the sky.  While I scanned the sky to orient true north an old conversation with my teacher Andy ran through my head.  figure drawing class, Andy bent over my shoulder, talking about visual drives, pushing my eye, here, here, here.  frustration in my eye, my hand, my body, my brain "What am I looking for?" Andy simply said "anything."

and just then, last night, as Andy's 'anything' faded i saw the satellite directly above my upturned head.


John said...

I visited Andy just before the end,to see his drawings from the previous decade. they were predominantly 'sharpie' drawings on napkins done at building 19 and or home depot / walmart in Somerville or Medford of people shopping and milling about. I had seen maybe a dozen or so in the past and was put off by the flimsy napkin thing. I knew that he prized frugality but really! get some damn drawing paper, commit! The notion of ephemera was always around his drawing classes, the idea that the process was more than the outcome. This was not something I could accept I had too much at stake to let go of the outcome, my own self worth was defined by my drawing.
He included me in his Cambridge Center classes that took place in Demetrios'sold studio on Huntington and Mass Ave. with an incredable skylight I had heard about. At this class and a subsequent class in the new studio in Sommerville something happened. I was in dangerous company of sculptors drawing for one, with an emphisis on the form as the genisis of all motive. The eye/ hand synthisis became something of a continuous movement with a lifting off and touching down in pure response. I noticed as accutely as ever a relation with a sublimation of need and an increase in responsive reception and translation. All those words ;" sizes, take this to there, this goes with that, turn the corner here" etc, etc, etc. took on a new meaning about being engaged with the form rather than picture making as it never had before. a Although I held on to the best of those drawings for many years and continue to this day to buy expensive paper to draw on, I was at that time released from a kind of bondage and was given a process to guage how much my wanting hinders me from realizing. I digress- the napkins; thats another story.

Debbie Clarke aka pbsage said...

John thank you for this, it gives me greater understanding. as an art student the words ephemera and process were not in the vocabulary i used. i didn't get any of that, struggling too hard to just see, translate. that responsive, body thing...i got it...domenic used to say, he felt in his stomach...heh...a woman feels in the belly where creation happens.

yes napkins. sometimes you just gotta do it, nothing about frugality. god, sometimes i have drawn on my skin or pocketbook because some visual understanding came to me and i just had to get it down.

my artist friend John DiMarino and I exchanged sharpie drawings on napkins the last time we met. i gave him a drawing of my muse...will post that pic. he gave me his, which is his bacchus head. mine is a naked woman with a candle in her uplifted hand and a heart in her hand over the heart. or vice versa, as need arises. impressed with your response that i would like to feature it as a post, with your permission.

and...i always draw on good paper, as do my students. as one of my teachers said...andy? domenic? peter? paul? 'you never know when you're gonna get a good one'.

i can only lead my students through steps i have always taken, acknowledging the steps of others that i follow...and my steps, as well as yours, lead us right back to bourdelle's studio.

btw: today an aib grad from '68 was in bananas. we had a great chat. and drawing is her foundation too.


John said...

So the napkins; I was really repulsed by the napkins as a medium for the drawings when I first saw them. Now I reflect on the ease with which I can project some speculation some about them. You know what they say about assume? The subject of being blocked from fully engaging in the drawing experience by the appetite for a 'successful' drawing or the projection of a fantasy of recognition;- the need for this one to be a good one cause now we're on the good paper or the last paper or what have you- fits with what was so dominant in 20th century art. The muse of automatism , free association, direct un-mediated expression prevails as a motive from the earliest fauve through Pollock. David Smith( directly from Picasso and Pollacks "psychoanalytic" work) is the seminal figure for Andrew's move from traditional wax and bronze to direct manipulation of material- iron and steel. The marks of a felt tip marker and absorbent tissue is also undeniable, unremovable, yet without a kind of pre-meditation of 'I am now taking art materials to a space and attempting to make an art something'. many of the drawings were saved by his girlfriend at the time, we must imagine many more to have been tossed. The prevalence of stuff made to look like art is at times completely overwhelming, as is the thought; isn't there already enough objects in the world? The themes of automatic free expression, anti object and anti art or 'artistic' art are three currents that I know by the books that he was buying and reading Andy was exposed to. All of us with some self examination are not immune to.
I have a love affair with material, paper is very much in there. I am sure my reaction to the napkins is part of that. I have also rejected anti-art as a solution.
However the remarkable thing in viewing 100 of these drawings in a sitting was an opening of a view into another' s mind. The probing discoverer, the sharp humorist, the academically trained draghtsman seeking a way out of conventions. There on dozens of scraps of tissue was one human mirroring back that which art has always been about: what is it like to be human.