Monday, November 28, 2022

Is the Picture Big Enough?

Life poses many choices. I gotta pick something every now and again. Hopefully, the choice I make is the best one for the moment.
But, how am I ever to know? I cannot live in parallel universes or at least I do not think I can. Is multi-tasking a form of operating in parallel universes? Now, I am listening to music, writing this blog entry, drinking water, eating tamari-roasted almonds and trying to take care of my aching back.

A friend once impressed upon me that since I was alone and the world lay before me, I should take advantage of every second of every day. I don't know exactly how he saw me doing that. But he drinks a helluva lot of coffee and I don't, so maybe his perceptions are generally speedy.

Since the time my friend freely gave me that advice, my emotional, spiritual and expressive lives, which are integrated more closely now than ever before, have guided me through my choices. The sky may be the limit, but choosing within that limit is the challenge. Imagining the limit is the challenge. Adapting to readily identifiable givens seems to be the first step to establishing "the limit."

By "limit," I mean answering the question who am I? within my art. How clearly can I describe what I have chosen to describe. At some junctures, my writing and my art have been so baroque that determining what is going on has been extraordinarily difficult. The endless verbosity has flowed like a river; if spoken, the words translated as meaningless stream of consciousness. Oddly enough, in the art of creative writing, that is called "generative prose." Buried within that generative prose was the writer's voice. It is still taking shape. In the art, I started out over thirty years ago with a vision that is pure, but in order to secure that vision, the work had to become so impetuous and impulsive that it was a relief to find some inkling of the source for the purity. Buried within the mess of marks and uncharacteristic imagery was a clear, unadulterated visual statement. It took forever to re-establish it.

The art and the writing have strangely developed a voice that was always there. I just had to shape it, hone it, and keep manifesting the principles I always believed in. Aye, those principles were the crux. Sustaining them meant that I was building the skeleton. I simply had to make it stronger and the bones constituting it had to be as dense as possible.

Improvised music sometimes may sound like no musician knows where he or she is going. William Parker once said, and certainly his statement is shared by all improvisers, that an improviser has to have chops. Just like the athlete has to have muscles. It is only then that the musician can succeed in going where he knows he must go. Chops allow freedom. Expressiveness becomes a matter of course, something you can do and do well. Responsiveness to oneself or to someone else is automatic. No labor involved.

Art and writing can be as temporal as music given intentions of the artist. But the refinement and the editing, respectively, can take more time...before the picture is framed or the writing is copyrighted, published or simply finished as an example of one of those satisfying creative efforts.

So as the motion from one creative act to another may involve more than one state of consciousness to reach a destination, I am still traveling towards the original celestial limit. My mind is like a chemical multi-directional conveyor belt. The limit will never be reached, because I have no idea where it is. All I can do is relish the trip and not postpone the joy. Wherever that is, however that can be achieved. And joy is the impetus behind the choices. I have to remember to enrich the major choices with the details that can accompany them. I can wear a white shirt, a black jacket and jeans, but what do I wear underneath? Lace or cotton underwear? And how about jewelry? And mascara and lipstick? I mean how far do I go to accessorize? Will I still be recognized?

copyright 2010 Lyn Horton
photo: partial view of "Still Life with Curves" #13, copyright 1974-2010 Lyn Horton

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Savoring, Republished from 2010

Too often, one can plow through life believing, or not even believing, rather mindlessly thinking that being here, alive on earth, is a matter of fact, not for appreciation or awareness thereof.
That I have titled this blog The Paradigm for Beauty means that I want to write about the experiences that I appreciate in my life. I am also interested in the consciousness required to witness experience and see, hear, touch, smell and feel it.
Just because I write about creative improvised music and make visual art does not preclude the fact that my capacity for enjoying birdsongs is non-existent.
I think that being female contributes a lot to how I think and how I use my senses to invest experience with significance. That the birdbath on my terrace can be viewed from my dining room table offers the opportunity for participating in a natural world, albeit a limited one, one without jaguars and lions, whales, and seals.
In silence, sound is abundant. All winter long, when the windows are shut, the nature of the sound has everything to do with the interior and logically the internal. When winter approaches, I am ready for it. I am ready to focus on my internal spaces. I am ready to batten down the hatches, seal up the cave and seemingly hibernate: infrared photography would reveal this bundle of energy roaming the house, pausing for a while, then roaming again. What the photo would not show is the way my mind is operating, developing ideas for my art, listening to music for the purpose of writing about it. Once it is March, I yawn with anticipation of the changing light, of throwing the windows open and letting the exterior invade the interior.
The spring calls me outside. The smells of the earth beckon me to sink my fingers into the dirt to care for my garden. I want to feel the breezes and the rain on my face. I want to fall asleep without laying a heating pad on my chest. That time eventually comes every year. The temperature of the inside of the house equalizes with the temperature of the outside so I do not have to raise and shut the windows all the time, having become an anthropomorphic thermostat. And when the windows are open, so my longing to be one with the universe pervades my psyche. It is the sounds that take me to that cosmic plane. It is the revivification of the colors that re-sensitize my notions of change. I become healthier because my body is taking in the energy that is more evident, more noticeable than it seems to be in winter, although I know that is not true.
Change is continuous. One tends to compartmentalize instead of embracing the whole. It is the whole that is changing; we are part of the whole. Knowing that we are simply contributors to the change of the whole is a matter of consciousness. We are not controlling it; we are filters. Like every other living entity. Filters for experience.
Too often, we are caught in the web of our imagined function. We are led by our own ideas of who we are, instead of recognizing that the energy we expend physically is irretrievable and we are decaying with every breath we take. However, our spirit is enriching itself, the longer we live, the more we breathe, the more we listen, smell, touch, taste and look. We are blessed and we have to remind ourselves how, every second of every waking moment.

copyright 2010 Lyn Horton

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Strict Beauty: Sol LeWitt Prints Out His Vision

Viewers must be visually cautious in approaching the art, no matter in what form, of Sol LeWitt as if it were for the first time, without preconceptions. The breadth of his work seemingly has no bounds. The work gives the impression of being restrained and constricted by rules yet the human element penetrates it with grace, boldness and tenderness. LeWitt knew this. The necessary parameters are always stated and evident but he created them with potentially unexpected results in mind. His story is told by drawn lines; strong, steady or wavering brushstrokes; and by the choices he made determining geometric design strategies in series of multiples, (even as pertains to his three-dimensional work).

From the very beginning, LeWitt was fashioning his hand to make delicate and expressive strokes as demonstrated in the first lithographs and etchings dating from as early as 1948. Correlating the similarities between the first few prints in the exhibition and those that become identified with his signature language points to his awareness of the surface area on which an image would rest.

One of LeWitt’s many purposes was to map the surface in shaping any of his two-dimensional work. Throughout his history, he laid out the ways in which he would do that. In every level of engagement though, he allowed himself ways to move further. His vocabulary grew. His language evolved multi-directionally. Lines were the predominate informants. The lines started to form shapes; the shapes became filled with color. The number of choices he could make grew, as he developed layers and layers of givens which he could move around any way he wanted to without sacrificing the consistency of imagery. Printmaking no doubt gave him a range of subtleties that were unachievable in original work because he could move entire images that lived on plates and reincorporate them into the print which he was making or repeat images without the direct introduction of his hand.

The magnificent array of prints in Strict Beauty demonstrates a means with which LeWitt could magnify the richness of possibilities within a surface of paper. Because he was his own kind of perfectionist, nearly all of the prints appear as though they are original drawings. That is one reason that they are stunning, arresting and embracing, defying all attachment to a mechanized method of production.

LeWitt’s specific types of imagery appear and reappear but from different perspectives, with different nuances, in different colors, with different kinds of lines. Isometric geometry often forms the skeleton for the application of color or line or both.

Fine lines become opaque brushstrokes, elegantly sweeping across the page over and over again in a sensical way, e.g. Parallel Curves, Wavy Lines, or in freeform combination of strokes, i.e. loops and curves, the fun-filled Loopy-Doopy; or move vertically in simple downward and upward strokes, overlapping, mixing with each other transparently in a gauzy curtain with an imaginary breeze wafting through.

The expansion of surface takes place also with his use of color, persistently primary and secondary and combinations thereof, sometimes so muted it almost disappears and is visible only in contrast to another color or to black, and sometimes so brash and loud that the viewer can only approach the piece from a certain distance in order to absorb it, i.e. The Lincoln Center Print, 1998.

Whirls and Twirls, Color, and Black, 2005, were made two years before LeWitt passed away. They are a magnificent journey of primary color, geometry and free flowing guided lines all contained within one fundamentally curvilinear shape. These pieces were double-hung as the conclusion of the exhibit. They express the unceasing dynamic that energizes LeWitt’s work.

Art grows from innumerable sources. Those sources are instilled in an active artist’s creative being and stem from life experience, education, consciousness and basic knowhow. The results of an artist’s process are seldom as definably pristine as the way in which LeWitt’s unfolds. But indefatigable analysis from outside of an artist’s work that apparently invites it squeezes out any chance of its being appreciated for its essence which is to be beautiful, thoroughly beautiful.

Illustrations from top to bottom: Untitled (Female Nude), 1950, lithograph, sheet size 15 7/8" x 11 9/16"; detail from a set of six Line Etchings, etching, color etching and aquatint, 2000, each sheet size 16"x 16"; Straight Brushstrokes in Five Colors in All Directions, 1996, color aquatint, sheet size 29" x 29"; Six Brushstrokes in Different Colors in Two Directions, 1993, color sugar lift aquatint, each sheet and image size 47" x 29 3/8"; Lincoln Center Print, 1998, screenprint, sheet size 38" x 30 1/4"; Whirls and Twirls, Color and Black, 2005, color linocut, each sheet size 25" x 55."

(This article was written after seeing Strict Beauty: Sol LeWitt Prints, curated by David Areford, PhD, at the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, MA. The exhibit was installed first at the New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain, CT, where LeWitt’s work was first exhibited in 1949.)

Is the Picture Big Enough?

Life poses many choices. I gotta pick something every now and again. Hopefully, the choice I make is the best one for the moment. But, how ...