Some thoughts from April in Baltimore


An unaccustomed sunlight filled the train car, formed faint prisms on the large windows where some chemical detergent hadn’t rinsed cleanly away. The scenes blurring past through the glass were all familiar for their mundane repetition along the eastern seaboard. Sometimes rows of identical houses, sometimes the iron tangle of abandoned industry. Occasionally the sleek cool of a body of water, blue and filled with secrets.

And the very next day, the weather betrayed us. Winds, rain, and an overall gloom have replaced that welcome sun in which I sat reading outside the train station mid afternoon.

From here I can see the curve of of the earth

Here are the days—
Heat, haze
on the horizon like a
matte painting, wavering

This part of summer
finds me un-hungry.
I have no appetite.
My desires simplified,
bleached
like the half-shells of
bi-valves, left hollow on the sand.

The sounds of waves,
shrieking gulls, soft wind—
And the gradual granular erosion
of my skin, cell by cell.
A pretzel taste on dry lips.
The penetrating tiredness,
and how sun-soaked skin
feels temperatures differently now.

The monotony of waves,
endless motion
that results in a kind of
pounding stillness,
a loud silence,
a dense-packed solitude.
Time stops for a few hours.
There is a profound reassurance
in these contradictions.

Tide in, tide out
Salt and sand—
abrasives
that soothe, and erase.

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Leave(s)

portion of a Calder sculpture

People disappear

Sometimes all of a sudden
without warning.
Sometimes gradually

like sunset on the longest day of the year,
or how long it takes some trees
to become naked
in the face
of
oncoming winter.

One way is like hitting a brick wall.
The other is more torturous.

An ongoing awareness
tracing the slow serpentines
through the empty air
and then the gentle, condescending
landing
on the dry sidewalk

of
each
brittle

leaf.

Then you
Brace for winter, and dream

of springtime.

 

A Spring rain, soon forgotten

The morning, bright and grey,
has brought that soft, all-day rain
peculiar to certain regions, like here.

Neither dire nor gloomy;
gentle patterings on the sill
And out the streetside window—
Wet roads that sound like
crushed velvet or old dresses,
piled flat in a secondhand store.

No slantwise wind or biting air
Just a fine steady parade of silken threads
falling from bright skies

Sequins and bright baubles
gather on the lips of things,
then parachute one by one, to
Join up with silvered rivulets
in the mud of backyards, or
the sunken spots in the pavement.

Inspiring of bookish pursuits
or, maybe, a walk—
The streets are quiet and empty.

Only the swishing of tires as they pass,
pressing unforeseen creases
into the faded dresses—
a jazz brush accompaniment
for a quiet grey spring day,
soon forgotten.

May 22, 2017

Luck is a residual of preparation: visiting artist talk


Monica Forsythe wrote an an article on Medium regarding my visiting artist talk for UMBC at the Spark Gallery during the Light City Festival in Baltimore. I’m honored and gratified to have made such an impression. It was a curious and enlightening endeavor. The preparation for the talk took me backwards through time, and reminded me where I came from. In college I was, oddly, a technophobe about computers— I was all about physical media.

In recent years, conversely, I’ve found the opposite to be true. The blank page or canvas can hold a terror it never did when I was younger; a result of reliance upon ‘save as’ and ‘undo.’ Yet I’ve never given up on the analog. I found ways to incorporate the flexibility of digital into my analog works. Scan, scan, scan; add, edit, layer.

The preparation for this talk had me go through years of process; recalling how I got from one place to the next. It was a revelation of remembrance; a kind of rejuvenation. It also reinforced how quickly things tend to change (the thesis for my whole talk)— how that’s more true than ever.

Thank you, Monica! I’ll be reading more Between the Frames in future, and keeping an eye out for your work.

Below: some selects from the presentation, for fun.
Title slide for ELizabeth Daggar visiting artist talk at Light City for UMBC

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From the archive: an outboard motor and a few lines

A vector illustration that was used for a poster a number of years ago, around the same time the poem below was written.

An outboard motor,
its rotors dull and pitted,
hangs from a century-old beam
among the rafters.
The darkness up there
would be forbidding,
were it not for the string
of lights ‘round the mirror

Which smudged reflection
is filled with faces,
flickering in shadows
Of candles
and various states
of inebriation.

The man behind the bar wears a smile
He flashes it often,
but only at targets, and only
when warranted,
like any conscientious
man-at-arms.

(@JimO)

Multidisciplinism? I’m gonna talk about it in Charm City. (update)

Poster for Elizabeth Daggar, visiting artist at the Light City Festival in Baltimore, April 2017Observations of a Visualist

If you’re in the Baltimore area for the last night of the Light City Festival on April 8 at 7:30 pm (that’s 19:30 World Time)— do join me in the at the UMBC pop-up gallery in the Inner Harbor for a chat and presentation regarding the importance of  multidisciplism (see also: generalism) in the technology-driven world of design these days.

See you in Charm City! x