Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Irascible Mark Rothko in Arkansas

Today, I finally visited the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock to see the exhibit Mark Rothko in the 1940s: The Decisive Decade. After seeing my first Rothko at the Phoenix Art Museum years ago, I was mesmerized by his work and wanted to see more of it. So, when I discovered that the Arkansas Arts Center, only two hours away from Memphis, would have a Rothko exhibit, I knew that I had to go!

Before you reach the Rothko exhibit in the museum, there is another exhibit entitled Modern Art in America that hosted many pieces that had me drooling: among the pieces presented were Diego Rivera's Two Women, Paul Cezanne's Sous-Bois, Odilon Redon's Andromeda, Camille Pissarro's Kensington Gardens and Luigi Loir's L'ecole militare. I enjoyed viewing the works and tried to take my time through the initial exhibit yet I knew that Rothko awaited.

When I finally reached Rothko, I felt my mouth drop a couple of times as I stared at the strange pieces, wondering about the meaning behind them and then realizing that it did not matter. What mattered was that I enjoyed them all. I found that Rothko's pieces reminded me of dreams untold, emotions unheard of and words that had yet to be invented. I felt tears welling up in my eyes as I stared at the paintings; I did not know if I felt the emotion Rothko had poured into the works or if the tears were simply my own response in the simplest form. Something that I found interesting while walking through the exhibit was the fact that Rothko was part of a group known as The Irascibles, a group of American abstract artists who rejected the Metropolitan Museum of Art's American Painting Today - 1950 exhibit.

Some of the artists that were a part of this group were Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, poet Weldon Kees (one of my favourite poets!), Adolph Gottlieb, Hedda Sterne (the only woman in the group!) and others. Rothko is seated on the right in the first row.

As I walked through the exhibit a second time, I made note to read his quotes that were portrayed on the walls. Here are a couple:

"I quarrel with Surrealist and abstract art as only as one quarrels with his father and mother, recognizing the inevitability and function of my roots - I am both them and a new integral completely independent of them."

"If I must place my trust somewhere, I would insist it in the psyche of sensitive observers."

The work of Mark Rothko is bold and soft, tender and violent. The colours he chose were loud and striking yet he could make them a delicate as a feather. At times, I wanted to touch the paintings and feel the paint with my fingers yet I knew that I really did not want to spend a night in jail for the sake of art!

If you find yourself to be near or in Little Rock in the near future, do yourself a favour and go visit the exhibit!

A big thanks to the Arkansas Arts Center for hosting such an exhibit!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

poem - 17 October 2006

Throwing a stone across a pond causing ripples -
each linked to one another in the grand
scheme of things. The stone represents
changes and what one looks forward to in life
when boredom and ennui are rampant.
Lakes, rivers, ponds all: the source of breathing
and a feeling of existing, of simply
existing, moving beyond what we know as trivial.
Too often, people expect too much
and receive too little, their stones
creating ripples too messy and fractured
to take in with any sense of responsibility.
Shall a painted stone bring any relief
to the mundane? Shall a feather?
Whispered words taken directly from
direct meanings? Are the ripples meant to be
more than life: the universe tapered in a single act,
condensed and wrapped strictly for those with
limited depth? Pity felt - ripples more
in movement to ease, no longer suffering.

17 October 2006

(copyright 2006 Kimberly Richardson)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Lost Jack Kerouac

In 2012, Da Capo Press published The Sea is My Brother, the lost novel of Jack Kerouac. I had heard of this "lost " novel yet only read it several days ago. In short, I loved the book.

Now, let me get to WHY I loved the book!

This novel, written in 1943, after Kerouac completed his stint as a Merchant Marine, is the beginning of it all; the start of his literary career and his most famous work, On The Road. This novel tells the story of Wesley, a Merchant Marine who is in New York for a spell and meets up with some random people at a bar. Eventually one of them, a Columbia professor named Bill Everhart, decides that Wesley's life is just what he needs to shake up his humdrum of a literary elite life. He turns away from the comforts of the literary elite and joins his no-moss-growing friend towards the journey of change.

This novel sounds of a Kerouac just testing out his voice on the world, ready to take whatever comes his way and to proceed onward with more words, words, words. The voice is there, cracked and flawed yet it is unmistakably Kerouac; in fact, I heard his voice in my mind reading this book to me as though we were old friends that had reunited after such a long period of time. It was Jack and I was glad to see him again.

I will admit that every time I think of Kerouac or read anything about him, my mind instantly plays jazz in the background, for it is the only music that I can think of that suits him perfectly. The jazz flows, the mouth whispers and yells and I smile because I know who it is.

Thankfully, the main branch of the Memphis Public Library had copies of this book; now that I have read it, I know I want a copy of it to add to my library. If you are a lover of the Beat Generation, you need to read The Sea is My Brother.

Thank you again, Jack.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Book Review: The Immoralist by Andre Gide

So, I decided to take a break from reading Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert and read The Immoralist by Andre Gide. To say that it was a delightful book does not give it justice; this was slim and powerful novel about a man's embrace of Life after coming so close to Death. We, the readers, are given a firsthand look at Michel's life and how he has become more than a man, at least in the eyes of his friends; however, they see his "awakening" as something that might be dangerous and would upset the calm past Michel held onto so tightly before. We learn of his beloved wife, Marceline, and how devoted she was to him, right up to her painful death. We see a man come full circle to himself and beyond what the ordinary mind can not even begin to fathom. This is a book that must be read and enjoyed slowly, not like me who devoured it like a warm slice of pumpkin pie on a cold night. Gide's wards are like poetry; long and sensual, thoughtful and emotional.

I love reading works written by the Existentialists, for in their work they lay claim to the thought that once you understand that you will die, then and only then can you truly begin to live. How morbid and powerful at the same time. Michel, after coming so close to Death, wants to know what it truly means to live. Even as he watches his wife slowly fade away under her sickness, he burns with life and a desire to "move forward" at any cost.

To end this review, here is a great line from the book, summing up the central idea of this novel:

When you first knew me, I had a great steadfastness state of mind, and I know that's what makes real men - I have it no longer. But this climate, I believe, is what's responsible for the change. Nothing discourages thought so much as this perpetual blue sky. Here any exertion is impossible, so closely does pleasure follow desire. Surrounded by splendor and by death, I feel happiness too close, and the surrender to it too constant. I lie down in the middle of the day to deceive the dreary prospect of time and its intolerable leisure.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Whims of Mercurius

I suppose, then, that to forgive
You is expected. Not for
A lack of trying.
This has gone beyond far, beyond enough,
And the words cannot come
Smoother or faster. I know no magick.
To take me at my words, flow straight
Down the pages to something barely
Understood is a miracle.
There is no other liquid to describe it.
I can no longer hold it inside of me,
Just pray, pray and perhaps
The gods shall return.
I am no longer here to listen
But rather to instruct the natures
Of the sybaritic philosophers.
Forward, onward to another truth,
Another tale, another something
That is foreign to your eyes.
My language, here, beside you
Grows stronger, no help from the
Fungus growing on your back
As a result of your tales.
My eyes burn yet not as your silver soul.
Come forward and let me kiss you.
Lips made of impure metal.
Never was I ever closer to you. 

(copyright 2013 Kimberly Richardson)

Monday, December 2, 2013

poem - 4.25.13

Strong willed and independent
Never did too much good.
Breathe, and all is shaken right.
See, and the world will respond.
Frailty never gains friends, only
The dirty laundry designed to
Stay that way. I remember
When I made love last week
And how I stared at my partner.
It was then I realized
That I was finally breathing.
My breath touched his skin
And he smiled with satisfaction
That finally, I learned something
After all.

(copyright 2013 Kimberly B. Richardson)