New York & Norwalk

Beneath all the ideas and abstractions, I guess life is really about the physical things, and the senses.

The ice finally melted, so today was the first back-on-the-water practice of the season. Having mentally prepared for a brutally cold temperature, I was pleased to find that spring seems to have come early this year! The sounds of the birds indicated that they agree. I was even able to take off my hat toward the end of the row, it was so warm. While looking at the dark background of some condos I examined by breath as I exhaled, and found that it was barely visible. It would be nice if every day this season were as warm as it was this morning, but I have the funny feeling that it’s going to get much worse. Ice will yet again creep up out of the waves and attach itself to our boats and oars.

On Thursday I had my work reviewed by artist Ken Buhler who looked at some of my recent drawings and tried to figure out what I was trying to do. He said that it looked like I was trying to document something, and that I ought to try and make it clearer to the viewer what those things or concepts are. Then I showed him my drawings from last spring, and he looked at my first few drawings and said he liked those the best. This was unusual, because I was encouraged away from that style when my class had told me that it didn’t leave enough to the imagination or interpretation. I had then moved in the direction of suggesting forms rather than showing them. But Ken almost echoed the reaction of Doug Beube, the last visiting artist, who I remember saying “I like stuff,” i.e. it’s more visually appealing to have a space filled with all sorts of varying lines than to leave so much negative space.

On Sunday I journeyed out to the Big Apple in order to visit the Met, specifically to see the exhibit: “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China.” There wasn’t much time to explore too much else, although I did briefly look at some 18-19th century French paintings. Some of the Chinese works were bizarre, some obsessively ordinary, and some mystical and ephemeral. Possibly the most memorable was a collection of nine photographs documenting one man’s face over the course of two years. During this time, he had different Chinese characters tattooed on his face until his entire face was covering in black ink. So many words and phrases that identity gets drowned out.

Drowned out. New York does that. I texted a friend that I was in the city, and he texted back saying the city has “great buildings” and “awesome architecture.” Now, I don’t have the world’s greatest ear for sarcasm as it is, but over text it’s even less clear. He clarified that the city is in fact (in his humble opinion) “a bloody eyesore.” Outside the Met I got some food from a Halal cart. I listened to a veteran play the saxaphone. For a few minutes, the sounds of horns honking captured everyone’s attention, as a parade of cars bearing Ukranian flags passed by (I suppose I’ll bite my tongue regarding my hope that the Ukraine will be able to avoid the parasitic influence of NATO and the EU…oops).

Tired, I drifted between falling asleep and waking up during the train trip back.

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