Archive for the 'Musings and poetry' Category

More on Eric Fischl

Alec Baldwin, “Listen to This”, interviewed Eric Fischl on August 5 about his work, his creative process, and his book “Bad Boy.” You can listen to the complete interview (if you haven’t already, and if you aren’t full up on Fischl from my previous posts) at: It’s nice to hear his voice and listen to him speaking about his work in his own words without editing. I particularly relate to the section about monetizing everything we do in this culture and how receiving money for art that one has made with love requires artists to translate that back into love. Do you make your art out of love? When you sell your work (you do sell your work, right?), does the receipt of money feel like enough to you? Have you ever sold anything you wish you hadn’t?

Are you getting paid for your art?

How many times have you shown your artwork at a  venue where you bore all of the costs of framing and publicizing your show, in addition to all of the costs and labor to produce the work? Non-profit venues get state money through their State arts boards, but most have no particular incentive or expertise that will help further your career. When you show in their spaces (and alternative venues, such as coffee shops and restaurants), you are enhancing their reputations or businesses, but often only adding a line to your resume. How frequently have your shows in these sorts of venues resulted in sales, introductions to prominent critics or collectors, or in some other way given you more than the “privilege” of gracing someone else’s walls at your expense? Our “Art Culture” asks us to compete for the honor and to feel grateful when it is bestowed on us. Is there another way? I think it is an important issue, one that many of us have pondered, often with increasing anger and feelings of helplessness. Go to to read a very informative (with additional links) article on Hyperallergic on ways that artists – visual and performing –  are attempting to change the pervasiveness practice of artists not being paid for their work or the use of their work. If you find this interesting, you can sign up to receive Hyperallergic’s newsletter with artist-centered news and information. I’d love to get your comments on their article and any relevant experiences you’d like to share!

Reading Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy

I am reluctant to finish this book, which has captivated, inspired and challenged me over the last several days. I am fascinated by Fischl’s ability to transcend social, personal, and art market obstacles to adhere to a conviction about his work that seems nearly heroic to me. It helps, of course, that almost from the beginning of his study at CalArts in the early 70s, he had the support and confidence of others whom he respected, even when they thought his work was not the direction art was going. He persevered and the work he produced since that time has a unity which he understands and intelligently articulates.

Fischl’s adherence to his singular vision makes me aware of the ways I have found to conceal the rawness of my own experiences instead of showing their naked truth in my  images. I am able to be fully exposed in my poetry, but I have not had the courage to make similarly honest images.

Meanwhile, my dreams are intense right now in response to Fischl’s book, calling up events and images that are demanding that I find a way to create them. Besides the courage, which I hope I will find, I need materials, space, and time. Is it time to apply for a grant again? Is there any point? Somehow, I know I will find a way to do this work. I know because I always have.

The Frog King

The Frog King

Her promise means nothing

a child crying for a lost

plaything crying

as children do coming face to

face with the world.

She would have promised anything.

An older girl

a young woman, though

the golden ball alone

a plaything

makes unlikely that possibility

might have laughed

abandoned the ball walked away


A promise is

a promise Father commands.

So he ate from her plate

drank from her cup slept

that’s what he called it

in her bed.

Now everyone says the naked

man in her bedroom is

a king, even though

the girl

the child insists he is just a frog.

Rapunzel, After

I’ve been working on writings in a new journal specifically set aside for the Fairy Tale Series (I tend to have to do that when a new series begins to seriously coalesce).  With the new journal, a sewn binding with lots of pages printed with a 4-square graph, I feel more free. I scribble over what I’ve written, test words, move things around, throw stuff out. The painting that goes with this one isn’t done yet, but I did know when I began it what it was about.

Rapunzel, After


It’s hard to piece the story together

from a handful of photos

half-truths, evasions

outright lies.


It’s true about the long-haired girl

and the prince, though he didn’t act

the way princes are supposed to.

He rescued her, he said, but she

was just looking for fun

a little wild maybe

just a girl.


The witch

if she really was one

died. Stroked out on the kitchen floor

while the girl was out shopping

about the same time the prince left

for good though he’d been leaving

all along

over and over and the girl with

first one baby then two

no one to comb her long hair

forgive her, soothe her when she was tired or

rock the babies so she could sleep.


After that it was years wandering in the woods

searching for a prince finding

one after another just like the first

or worse.

Gretel’s Tale

Forty-five years later I can still

smell her stink, indistinguishable

from sour cabbage in the halls, carpets

too old to clean.


Mother laughed at the old woman’s shapeless

black dresses, her shrunken shoulders, the mottled

skin beneath her thin black hair. She was

never home to see her chase


us up dark stairwells, shrieking

imprecations until, breathless, we

slammed the apartment door behind us.

The dog was young then and


the fourth violent husband

still a few years away. The third appeared

amiable as long as he was drunk, and in California

1955, before Las Vegas, Boulder City, Reno


Apple Valley, Albuquerque, before

sitting on the kitchen floor, a cold beer open

between her legs, weeping and talking about

suicide to her 13-year old


Mother was on the way up.


But even then, when

it looked like, in a year or two, we might

have enough to go around, she

and the woodcutter husband


planned one day to lose us

in the woods. If we hadn’t been

so hungry, we would have saved up crumbs for

the trip, because we already knew


the old witch was out there

firing up the stove

bringing the water to boil

eager to pinch the meat on our bones.

Cold January Blues

It is almost impossible to find anything interesting to do or see at this time of year. And this year is particularly bad because it has been so very cold. Even my dog, who is very hardy, doesn’t want to go outside. The early snow, the repeated snow—already more than a winter’s worth—then the deep freeze has me longing for green. Even the view out my office window of the park across the street holds no interest for me. No one is playing in the tennis courts. No one is walking a dog. There are no football games. No one is playing basketball. There are no families having picnics or kids playing in the wading pool. Just snow and trees covered with snow. Brrr!

I checked out a book on collage, thinking that trying something new would inspire me to work, only to find that I am already doing my own version of collage with texture, paint, stencils, and stamps. I managed to finish or nearly finish one painting this month, but what I REALLY want to do is take a very long road trip! I’d like to leave here tomorrow and drive across the country to someplace where it is already Spring. Just driving, seeing the landscape go past the car windows, watching the road unroll before and behind me would make me feel better.

But no. What I am doing is eating the wrong kinds of food (starch, sugar, fat), watching very bad TV (and too much of it), avoiding my studio, and sleeping a lot. Also staying up too late, abandoning books half way through because they cease to interest me enough to finish them, and dragging myself to the gym the requisite 12 times a month.

Sigh. This too shall pass. Just not soon enough!

New painting, part of the “Point of View” series that I started last year. Thinking about how I can show the layers of images that attract my attention when I look out the window—not just what is there, but what could be there, what I imagine is there.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 273 other followers