Thursday, August 06, 2009

From Art Criticism to Poetry in FIVE STROKES

Downtown Seattle | First Thursday Art Walk | 7 August 2009

I set up an installation last night in the windows of a vacant storefront (where Design Commission used to be), between All City Coffee and Punch Gallery, on Prefontaine Pl. S. Space-wise, it was perfect, like having my own gallery. After about 20 mins, I started getting regular customers. I had a steady stream of visitors then, until 9P when I packed up to go. It was a bit tough at first. I'd had a hard day and was feeling a bit outside things, so I was quick to feel disheartened by the regular hurry-past, off-to-meet-someone sentiment and translated that into an overarching feeling of fear and unwillingness to interact. My, my, talk about criticism. These projects have a way of becoming learning lessons for me most of all, which is good, very good. Happily though, once things got going, I did have a terrific time and so did those who stopped by.

This was an installation in three parts: (1) a set of 20 sumi-e line practices with words on them (left window), (2) a set of 20 sumi-e gestures with titles (right window) and then, between them, (3) a live interaction with the artist.
I stood behind a 2-tiered table with sumi-e brushes and ink on the lower level and a stack of art reviews on the upper one. All those who passed by were invited to participate. I asked five questions of them and they used ink to respond, making gestures on the page.
The pages I used were large-format copies of critical art reviews, 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 at the Seattle Art Museum. Most chose to donate their work. And so the collected works will be distributed to ten poets on Thursday 20 August. Each will have 4 works to consider. They will sit in the SAM galleries, considering the gestures and the text, and turn them into poems. Afterwards, they will explain their methods of approach. Their explanations will be broadcast to the Brotman Forum.

SAM | Word Thursday, 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 very plainly suggests keeping the art in the art.

Thanks to all who participated and especially to Mylinda Sneed and Beckett Arnold who supported the project with their rosy presence.

What kinds of questions did I ask?

1. Do you consider what you do to be of value?
2. Is the real you still hidden?
3. In what ways are you compromising?
4. How successful are you at casting off burdens?
5. Do you know the right people?
6. What’s next?
7. What are you holding onto?
8. Are you still growing?

How did people respond?
Thoughtfully. Carefully. With focus. Great interest. What appealed to me most about watching people respond was the clarity of moment we shared. We were at the brink of expressing and then we expressed and that was curiously and carefully observed. This is the kind of communication that is possible! I very much like to see people engaged, especially in creating.


Blogger Laura Gamache said...

Oh yes, let's keep the art in the art - love the questions, photos, etc.

2:20 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I love how your projects engage the intellect by accessing the spirit of play. My favorite definition: "Art is serious play."

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for a great opportunity

to exhibit poetry

at SAM.

You JAM!

My first installment

of what Sumi-ed art meant

to me

is here, see?

10:17 AM  

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