Upcoming at Vivo Gallery–Poem by Miriam Sagan & Art by Ann Lasser

Brewed Sestina

Hot water
will brew memory
as from a teabag
out of the past
the door, half-open, turquoise color
this feeling needs a word.

I wanted to say the right word
to bring to the surface water
no longer occult, but gushing, colors
like memory
of the future as much as the past
essence of a teabag.

The origin of tea
Bodhidharma sat in silence, not a word
about sleep, or the past
about wind, or rain watering
memory
of the sky’s blue coloring.

Trying to stay as awake as a wheel of color
needing caffeine, inventing tea
tearing off his eyelids, sleep’s memory
tossing them with a word
so they sprouted, watered
by tears of the past.

This is the plant’s origin, in the past
beneath Asia’s dome of brilliant color.
Heavens water
the earth, brew hot tea
a calligraphic line, a word
mantra, gatha, memory.

Peace should be more than a memory.
What we did in the past
we can forgive, release the word.
Polish our kindness like mineral colors.
Drink your tea
more delicious than water.

Water holds its own memories.
Tea transcends future and past.
What is this color—the clearest word.

Noah Purifoy

Born in Snow Hill, Alabama in 1917, Noah Purifoy lived and worked most of his life in Los Angeles and Joshua Tree, California, where he died in 2004. He received an undergraduate degree from Alabama State Teachers College in 1943 and a graduate degree from Atlanta University in 1948. In 1956, just shy of his 40th birthday, Purifoy earned a BFA degree from Chouinard, now CalArts.

His earliest body of sculpture, constructed out of charred debris from the 1965 Watts rebellion, was the basis for 66 Signs of Neon, the landmark 1966 group exhibition on the Watts riots that traveled throughout the country. As a founding director of the Watts Towers Art Center, Purifoy knew the community intimately. His 66 Signs of Neon, in line with the postwar period’s fascination with the street and its objects, constituted a Duchampian approach to the fire-molded alleys of Watts. This strategy profoundly impacted artists such as David Hammons, John Outterbridge and Senga Nengudi. For the 20 years that followed the rebellion, Purifoy dedicated himself to the found object, and to using art as a tool for social change.

In the late 1980s, after 11 years of public policy work for the California Arts Council, where Purifoy initiated programs such as Artists in Social Institutions, which brought art into the state prison system, Purifoy moved his practice out to the Mojave desert. He lived for the last 15 years of his life creating ten acres full of large-scale sculpture on the desert floor. Constructed entirely from junked materials, this otherworldly environment is one of California’s great art historical wonders.

http://www.noahpurifoy.com/joshua-tree-outdoor-museum

Here is a piece of his we saw in the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Photo by Rich Feldman.

Yesterday we visited his outdoor museum in Joshua Tree. Had seen it ten years ago. It remains an inspiration–a very challenging one but a true source of vision and the ability to perceive.
I hope to have more to say about this anon!

Lowriders at the Sunport

There is a wonderful art show at Albuquerque’s airport–Curator Max Baptiste has installed “Lowriders and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico,” which is on display through November.

I sat for an hour–having dinner before meeting a flight–watching people respond to the show. Reactions seemed to range from “how cool” to “died and gone to heaven.”

The art collection at the Sunport is stupendous. It greets each arrival with so much of New Mexico. Over thirty five years, the collection has cheered and inspired me through all the dramas an airport brings.


Manuel Vega’s 1950 Mercury outside Custom Tattoo shop on Central Avenue, Albuquerque by Robert Eckert

Marietta Patricia Leis

A beautiful show of her work at the Harwood in Taos. I feel particularly close to this art as it was done in Iceland, at Gulkistan Residency.

Here is my poem for the artist:

Light is no rorschach
rather, a palindrome

can be read equally
forward and backward

always resolving, devolving into
twilight.

If I were a child at the edge of a glacier
I might, crepuscular,

appear as an old woman
yet still

retain the bones of a girl
who can leap, or roll

from dawn to dusk
or dusk to dawn.

Lava cools from fire
to the darkest earth

slow moving, it might just
be a necklace of fireflies.

On the island’s tectonic plate
if you squeeze the volcano

it becomes a handful of dirt
and in this way

time is distance…

Haunted by Japan: Photographs by Gail Rieke and Poems by Miriam Sagan

Certain experiences are so productive creatively that they continue on. Gail Rieke has been to Japan numerous times, and I only once. But we both visited this year, and I had the good fortune to talk to her before and after our trips. I’m combining our work below–not from the same exact places but I think from a deep ethos.

if there is a kami of sadness
she worshipped too long
at that shrine

hung books from wires
that could never
be read

not just ephemeral paper
but pages of air

the foam of waves
marbled the bookends of sand
in suminagashi

every woman
the world over
is writing a book
of herself

made of flesh and
north wind

Wayside Shrine

tears—
I haven’t heard
the temple bell
in so long

or ever before
seen a Buddha’s shrine
on the Tokyo
business street
or deep in country
where the earthen
sides of the lanes
loom over my head

offered an orange
like the ones
on the small trees
despite the freezing weather

for a few yen
lit a stick
of incense
with my cold gloved hands

stars, worlds

this smoke
that goes nowhere
goes
everywhere


http://ridetheflyingcarpet.blogspot.com/