Archive | Art Matters

February Rains

I wake and for the third morning in a row hear Joan Armatrading singing these lyrics in my head:

If you’re gonna do it do it right
Don’t leave it overnight

Also for the third morning in a row–more like the sixth, who am I kidding?–the rain is pounding against my window. I can tolerate this much rain in the spring–there’s a point to it, even a gift–but in February it’s just mean. Cold and wet and mean. Which is how I’ve been experiencing everything, including myself. Take the dream from which I’m waking. It’s as rough as the weather. Continue Reading →

Schnoz Is Beautiful: Reconsidering Modigliani

The Jewess

Even a year ago, “Modigliani: Unmasked” at New York City’s Jewish Museum would not have been as timely, though its pleasures would have been just as assured. A showcase of Italian-Sephardic Jewish Amedeo Modigliani’s work as a sculptor and a craftsman, it revels in his defiant embrace of outsider status, and reminds us that extraordinary creative work can arise despite – and to spite – repressive political climates.

In 1906, when Modigliani emigrated from his native Livorno, an Italian port town known as a safe enclave for Jews, France was beset by nationalist anti-Semitism. Because of his fluency in French and Latin good looks, he might have been able to assimilate as a Gentile. Instead, as the Museum’s curatorial notes report, he’d introduce himself by saying: “My name is Modigliani. I am Jewish.” This exhibition, amassed mostly from the collection of patron and dear friend Paul Alexandre, shows the “artist as a young outsider,” exploring non-Western art and unpacking accepted notions of beauty in rough drafts and sculpture as well as a handful of completed paintings made between 1906 and 1914. Continue Reading →

There You Are

My routine this fall: Watch the sunrise with the seagulls and the seals, then walk into the dunes. For the rest of the morning, write. Afterward walk into the woods and sometimes go thrifting, naming my finds consolation prizes or rewards depending on the day’s work. From then, bid the sun farewell from a west-facing beach, and make dinner from fisheries and farmstands in the area. Star-gazing from the hammock beneath the birch trees, and asleep by 9:30, tucked in with a grey-gold permakitten purring at my feet. This has been my perfect life, and it has turned me into the space crone mermaid of my dreams.

Last night I was telling a dear friend in Brooklyn about how sad I’ll be to leave the Cape next week. “I’m running out of supplies,” I told her. “I’m on my last bag of Oslo Coffee beans and down to my last bottle of vitamins. I’m even running out of wine. But it’s so hard to imagine not being able to run to the sea as soon as I wake. And how will I get unstuck in my writing when I can’t walk in the woods to clear my head?” “Spend this last week just soaking it all up,” she said. “It will be the best week of your life.” She is an artist and knows how to be inside the moment while also storing it for her paintings and drawings. I was grateful for her glorious plan, and grateful for the reminder of why I love New York City so much. It is there–scratch that, it is here–that I find my people one way or another. What’s most beautiful: once you find kindred spirits, they’re inside you wherever you go, whether they be tree spirits or seal spirits or loudmouth millennial spirits. Love is love.

Art credit: Detail from a Marlene Frontera drawing. Photo: me.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy