Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What takes sixteen sticks & four hearts?

Last night my friend Len, who always knows he can call me at the last moment, invited me to join him for a free percussion concert in the Winter Garden. By percussion I do not mean the construction going on at night in the pit of the World Trade Center... this was the uber talented and hip group So Percussion performing three pieces of new music. They played beads, coils of metal, flower pots, xylophones, and a variety of drums. The music was melodic, varied, enticing, and recorded live for the New Sounds Live radio program at WNYC 93.9. I loved it all, but by the last piece I was ready for it to end, percussion is not soothing, like mime or opera in subtitles, it takes extra concentration to enter their world. Funny how less makes more in ignoring perspective or light source in painting or writing haiku, people take some choices away and what is left evokes all.

The talented Ms. Lisa Moore played a variety of percussive instruments and mostly the Steinway grand in the Martin Bresnick piece as images by Goya filled the stage. I did this sketch of her. But Arvo Part's Fratres for Percussion Quartet and Paul Lansky's Threads were just as wonderful, even without the pianist.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eye of Sauron rises over SoHo

True story.

Russ, who works where I do, saw a woman fall to the pavement in front of the rising Trump Tower. "You OK? What happened?" He helped her up. She said she was OK but she'd been looking up up up at it and lost her balance. "Don't look at it, it's evil," says Russ. "Yeah, it is," she agreed.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Autograph sketch book

When I sit and listen to people chatting or reading from their books my hands need something to do. As a kid I doodled non-stop, filling sketchpads and margins on mimeographed homework sheets. When I didn't have paper or pen, I nibbled my nails. Now I create a portrait and autograph book at the same time. It is, in fact, my restless fingers disguised as a project.

I draw them in pencil. If they are still moving their lips, I add some watercolor. Then I provenance it, put in my signature, and go after the poet or novelist with zeal. "Your autograph, please?"

"Oh, oh, is that me? You did that here just now?" and rarely, "please send me a copy."

At the World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs last weekend, John Crowley gave an amazing reading from a work not yet in print, about the sexual coming-of-age of an unusually challenged and gifted young man.

Crowley uses a fountain pen with the same rusty brown ink I like. You have to love an author who uses the same tools.

I also enjoyed Patricia A. McKillip reading from a new novel that features a young and impressionable budding author. Very funny and apt. I sat up front and probably scared her, as I imagine I do for all of them. Sorry. It's either the sketchpad or sitting on my hands... Thank you all, my unwitting models, in pose and prose.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sitting on the steps at Yaddo

I just spent four days in Saratoga at the World Fantasy Convention. One afternoon I snuck away with two artists (Donato and Alan Beck) to paint in the gardens at Yaddo, the famous artists' retreat that I hope, one day, to attend as a poet.

The gardens were winter ready, rose bushes clipped and covered with straw, fountains drained, and fragile bushes wrapped in wire mesh. Workers in the distance were busy with terraces. The sun came out and lit the fall golds and the little red berries in the bushes, the last pink roses, and off in the distance the imposing main house loomed--stone--from the crest of the hill.

But it was cold. I was painting with gloves on. First I took out my program from the conference and sat on that. The marble steps still radiated chill into my posterior. Rummaging in my purse there was only one other choice--I sat on my poetry book. I carry two copies around always in hopes that someone will stop me and say "hey, could I buy that copy of The Elephant House off of you?"

Then I just had to laugh, here I was at Yaddo--sitting on my own book. Brooding really. So I sat there laughing to myself. Then I look up and some inmates of the big house are walking in the garden. Oh God, I thought, did they see me laughing to myself, will they think I'm nuts? My second though was, of course not, I blend in just fine, this is an artist's enclave. I'm sure there are plenty of folks here that liken themselves to hens.