Tuesday, August 11, 2009


"From Art Criticism to Poetry in FIVE STROKES"
Curated by A. K. “Mimi” Allin
@ Seattle Art Museum | SAM Word | 7:30PM 20 August 2009

"From Art Criticism To Poetry in FIVE STROKES” is about gesturing. It is about reversing criticism and using art to respond to art. It offers, as an alternative to traditional critical modes, simpler responses such as letting go and sensing. It plainly suggests keeping the art in the art.

PART ONE happened at this month’s Art Walk (7 Aug), outside the TK building. It included an installation and an interaction. There was a table with sumi-e brushes, ink and a stack of art reviews. Participants were asked five questions, ranging from the simple “How are you?” to the complex, “How successful are you at casting off burdens?” They then used ink to gesture their responses. They made their marks on large-format copies of critical art reviews, everything from groundbreaking essays by Clement Greenberg to contemporary reviews in The Stranger & The Seattle Times.

Once their marks were made, participants could either take their work home or donate it to become a poem. Most chose to donate their work. What appealed most about this project was watching the care with people responded and sensing the clarity of the moment we shared. There was a tangible “brink of expressing” followed by “an expressing” that was curiously and carefully observed by both parties. If this is the kind of communication that is possible, I dare say there is hope.

PART TWO happens Thursday 20 August at SAM Downtown. It is at this event that the sumi-e criticisms will be distributed to 10 poets. Each will have 3-4 to consider. Poets will sit in the SAM galleries, weighing gesture against text, and turning them into poems. Afterwards, they will explain their methods. They will not read their poems. They’ll drop their poems to the floor and go on working. Their explanations will be broadcast to the Brotman Forum (the SAM lobby). Museums visitors will be able to read the poems and see the drawings in the galleries until the museum closes at 9PM.

Witness the event in the SAM galleries or listen to it in the main lobby. The Seattle Art Museum is a “suggested donation.” Don’t let cost keep you away.


Blogger Laura Gamache said...

Not many issues arose as I wrote poems from the sumi paintings on pages of art critique - I was immersed in process - how to write within and out of these bounds? Standing to deliver - not my poem but my process - I felt confusion - was I supposed to connect to the audience in the room? remain interior? Listening and not listening to other poets share into the mic was similarly odd. How much should I depart from MY poems? Include their process thoughts? Act on them? Who besides us would be interested in what we were doing? Was what we were doing interesting beyond ephemeral gesture? Were we too cerebral, banana slugs excepted? Pages strewn around the mic - poems atop the sumi strewn critique - were the most beautiful image - too bad we couldn't have shellacked them to the floor. Thanks for the experience Mimi!

9:48 AM  

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