Wednesday, June 19, 2013

land's end

 The weather at the tip of Cape Cod conspired well with me. The rain and clouds, the cool damp air, followed by Saturday's perfectly blue-sky clear, sunny warmth, helped me decide what to do when. Thurs afternoon and Friday, I'd roamed the galleries and museums, and bought one pair of tiny car-shaped earrings, and I could sit quietly in an empty restaurant and eat a fine burger- the same restaurant that was packed on Sat night.
I'd spent the rest of Friday at art receptions, drinking wine and watching the boisterous, hand-holding crowds that had suddenly arrived.

Sat morning I rented a bike and rode the trails through the dunes. It was some of the most wonderful bike-riding I've ever done. I lay on the beach out there, reading my Michael Cunningham book about Provincetown. I would've never thought to read it otherwise- in fact it was published in 2002- but being here, it was exactly what I wanted, like an especially poetic and articulate guidebook. He discovered Ptown 30 years ago when he was at the Fine Arts Work Center. His writing is so effortlessly evocative that I feel no need to try and overly describe it myself, only to say, anyone with an interest in this idiosyncratic and beautiful town, whether you're here or want to visit someday, should read it. I was remembering another Cape Cod book I read, The Outermost House by Henry Beston, about his year in a tiny house by the ocean.

I walked the mile-long stone jetty out to Long Point, the skinny sandy curl of land, thinking about Hopper's Truro paintings and about how my photos were mostly of three pristine wedges of blue and beige, a strip of white or gray between.
I haven't used the art materials I brought, except for the old 'mechanical sketchbook' (camera). As in California, I thought I'd sit and draw, but I felt vaguely anxious about time and wanted to be out exploring. Even though, being in the physical place the experience is most potent, impressions most likely to translate to paper. During my 7 years in NYC, I did far more 'absorbing' everything around me than actually producing art. I rarely even took photos, regrettably- I rely on random emails or nearly-illegible journal entries (which unhelpfully ranged from obsessive to sporadic) to trigger my memory. Still, I have to believe it's all stored away in this brain for me to excavate over time. It must be. The more I write, or paint, the more I see them. Even though it seems that my paintings are more about some 'idea' of memory than a concrete one. Objects as placeholders.

I am alone plenty in my life- honestly more than I'd like- but the focused solitude of 'away-alone' is still more productive. Depending on how you define productive. "How long did that piece take you?" was a question I wrote about recently. The only answer that really makes sense is, My lifetime. And someone else's lifetime, too- not in a mystical or reincarnated way, but in that everything that came before me is in each piece I make, even if I don't understand it. I feel sometimes like I'm holding onto other people's memories, too, I am just not sure what to do with them, if anything. Maybe it's ok just to have them.

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