Thursday, June 23, 2005

Device Circle

I'm pretty sure we had this jigsaw puzzle set out on a card table in the living room during the blizzard when we saw the snowy owl in our backyard pine trees. The puzzle of Jasper John's oil painting was a family favorite. Fritzi enjoyed working jigsaw puzzles with us almost as much as she liked playing Scrabble or going along to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha. I am glad my sons will always have the memory of playing Scrabble together, three generations sitting at the round dining table with the board on the big lazy susan, their grandma basking in the shared moment.

Just opened my Dallas Museum of Art member magazine for July-September 2005. There's an intriguing large exhibit called Dialogues: Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, Rauschenberg coming up after the Gordon Parks' photography exhibit ends 9/4/05. It sounds as fascinating as the 2000 exhibit The Artist and the Camera: Degas to Picasso. [I checked, but there's not much on the DMA website yet.]

My parents came to visit during the 2000 "Camera" exhibit, and three generations were wowed. My folks drove down again during the spring of 2001, and we were awed by the DMA's Henry Moore exhibition. I will never forget Moore's drawings of the people in the underground subway shelters during the London blitz of WWII.

I'm marking my calendar for a lecture by filmmaker Larry Jordan on the films of Joseph Cornell, Thursday, 9/15/05, at 7 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium. There will be a screening of the experimental silent films of Cornell, and rare footage of the artist at work. It's only $5 for DMA members, $10 for the public. Make reservations at 214-922-1826. I'll look for you there!

This is the info from the DMA magazine:
Dialogues: Duchamp, Cornell, Johns, Rauschenberg
J.E.R. Chilton Galleries

This fall the Dallas Museum of Art examines the complex and textured artistic dialogue among four seminal modern artists...

Dialogues will study the artists' incorporation of found and assembled objects, with the central work of the exhibition being Duchamp's Green Box, a piece that had a profound significance throughout the century. The intersection of these artists draws from different sides of Dada, Neo-Dada, surrealism, minimalism, abstract expressionism, and pop art.

The exhibit will include more than forty works by Joseph Cornell, Marcel Duchamp, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. More than half of the works will be drawn from the Museum's own holdings and from the Marguerite and Robert Hoffman Collection, which was recently committed to the DMA.

Dialogues will go beyond the artists' real interaction and knowledge of one another's work to examine how the both adopted and contested different aspects of each other's creations. The exhibition will delve into the artist' use of appropriated icons, language, simple machines, circles, and mechanical movement, providing a rich intellectual exploration of major currents in 20th-century modern art.

Dialogues will push the viewer to reconsider the work of these seminal artists of the modern tradition through a new lens.
Out of town visitors welcome at Miz Nancy's Empty Nest B&B!!
Motto--You don't go barefoot in my kitchen, and I won't serve you Pop-Tarts.
Alternate motto--That tickly thang between the sheets is just a piece of Bounce.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Death of a student

Children die. All over the world. Every single day. From malnutrition, disease, birth complications and genetic disorders. By suicide. From land mines half-way around the globe, and from random bullet sprays in gang violence a few miles from my home. From swim pool accidents in gated communities, and horrifying abuse by mother's live-in boyfriends. They are left in locked cars in the Texas summer, or thrown from cars because they weren't properly fastened into a car safety seat. Children without life jackets at the lake, or active supervision on the playground. Some are attacked by the neighbor's Rottweiler, and some by the neighbor. They find loaded guns at home. They are victims of unspeakable crimes by parents who swear God told them to do it. Not the concern of the current administration, but impacting families every single hour of every single day.

It shouldn't happen. Not here. It shouldn't happen anywhere, but it always will. It shouldn't happen now, but our species is not as civilized as we fancy ourselves. In our fantasy mental version of modern medicine, children don't die. But they do. It's the pits. Life has no pause button and no rewind, and there's no guarantee that it will make sense.

When a child dies, it is "time out of whack" for the parents, my coworker explains. This week has given me cause to consider the death of a sweet, sweet child, of a student, and also to wonder about the siblings of the deceased. That concern for the young brothers has been lurking just off stage in my brain all week. What could I possibly say to the boys after the sudden death of their sister?

It was so difficult reading cards and writing letters when Fritzi died. Conversations were even harder. It didn't make sense. It shouldn't have happened. It hurt, and it still hurts. What helped me? I didn't "get on with life", or "get over it". Mourning is not like that. One doesn't just "get back to normal life."

The thing is, "normal" has changed. There's no rewind or pause. I work to accept the changes in the frustrated person holding the remote control and clicking without results. I am not in control, but I'm less remote.

Writing posts for this blog has helped me find a calm, safe spot. No answers or explanations. Just little hints at finding acceptance for myself, and some courage to explore changing relationships. Tiny glimpses of my life's purpose.

Writing has also been a way to Photoshop the mental images of my mother to find enhanced meaning and resolution. Some images needed to be blurred or to have the shadows softened. Other images needed the colors and definition adjusted. Sometimes the midtones had overpowered the highlights. The saturation levels required fine-tuning. Writing. Writing....

Woke up in the middle of the night knowing what I could tell the young brothers. I could tell them how I wrote stories about Fritzi. I hope I've written the letter in vocabulary the young brothers can understand. I hope they will consider my suggestion that they write stories, or make drawings. Writing has helped me more than I can describe. May these young brothers find a creative way to send their feelings, energy, sadness, creativity, and memory outward in a way that helps their larger family.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Lincoln Lunch Gang

Dad went to lunch at Wendy's with two friends after playing nine holes of golf this morning. I'm thrilled that he has connected with these guys who visit about their experiences and feelings in old age and loneliness. Next week they are upgrading to a steak and baked potato lunch at Lone Star.

I bet the old guys tip better than my students. Had to use the waitress analogy in classes yesterday. Kids were shouting across the room that they wanted red paper, or purple, or they needed glue, or a long list of other demands.

"Wait," I said. "Imagine you are in a restaurant. Do you shout your order across the whole dining room? Or do you wait until the waiter comes to your table and quietly asks you for your order?"

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Go ahead. Make my day.

Being a seriously frustrated FDR New Deal Democrat, these are difficult times for my dad. He's disgusted and, yes, outraged. How could he not be? He's eighty-two, and the country's in the worst mess he can recall. He's paying attention to the news. It worries me, since most of the news is bad for anybody's blood pressure. So I found a bumper sticker on-line and had it sent to him, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."

Dad's so excited he went out to the carport and slapped that puppy on the car bumper. Never in my fifty years has my dad allowed a bumper sticker on his car. He wouldn't even let me paint daisies on the '54 pea green Chevy when I was in high school. I love his big, bold, what-the-hell attitude. The car may outlast him. The bumper sticker may hold the car together. It's going to be more aesthetically pleasing than my Buick, which is held together with bird poop and bug guts, weathered by the harsh Dallas climate and poor air quality. [Remember learning about igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks??]

Dad's more informed than 98% of the American population. I had to forbid him watching, reading, or listening to any news story about the Kansas science curriculum. It's difficult managing his news intake from three states away!

Now, if Dad could get a Nascar sponsorship from Miller Genuine Draft, his car would be a source of income and enlightenment both.