Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hazel and Blue

Began with a tape of June Carter, maybe fifty years ago, appearing on a Pete Seeger television show, a lanky and expressively nervous Johnny Cash seated right alongside. Her steadfast voice--beautiful, and like a rock. The song--"I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," written by A.P. Carter, and maybe too true. Always so, in one like this--where the meaning of music carries even against woe. Frank O'Hara, The Day Lady Died. A world at hand--what we know best...

Monday, January 08, 2007


A rustic hare--or rusty, maybe. Winter burrows, darkened fields. Digging for scraps of root and seed. Seamus Heaney--the grain scoop, its heft and swing. Loaded words--something like work itself. A train of hares, bearing torches--from Teutonic myth. Or Andraste, goddess of the moon--sacred to her as well. Shape shifter--Easter, estrus--carrying an egg, fertility brought down in nighttime light. Cerridwen, too. Both tough and vulnerable--the two combined. "Hop little rabbit..."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tujague's Bayou

Tujague's--the old Creole place on Decatur Street. Two-Jacks, is how they said it, no hesitation. But that was twenty years ago--New Orleans as she was, family-style, impossibly ample, all one menu, prix fix... Not far beyond, the mighty river, 300 feet deep here at the widest bend, with blunt-nosed tugs pushing up and down stream... The season was winter, an icy wind through Jackson Square, inviting lights of Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop--the ancient dame at her piano, visitors and friends gathered around, atmosphere of old songs... Beyond, the still brown gray waters, motionless, cypress swamps with limbs exposed, raw boards outside some shack--nutria hides stretched over the gray wood, nailed around the edges to cure and dry... Jack Smith includes them--Saut Crapaud by Columbus Fruge, The Acadian One-Step by Joseph Falcon, Home Sweet Home by Breaux Freres... Taste of something locale, something pungent, something old...

Thursday, January 04, 2007

River Gray

Also from the Li Jiang, with two of the Guilin peaks, very faint. At first go, felt like the boat should be golden-sienna, but this proved too strong. Reworking it today, painting back that area, then drawing in a mueuzy boat with wobbly lines—faint wash of raw umber, with touch of blue and green, just enough to make it present, in the Chinese way. As if almost not there…a kind of quiet, disappearing. A world apart from Scilla and Charybdis, the source of so much melodrama…sounds of clashing stone. Here more an unending stream—whose mountains made it possible. Also, from somewhere, Calderon de la Barca: La Vida es SueƱo. River Gray.


A brown field, reworked many times, different levels of detail. The wash both hides and reveals--a bit of texture in the pigment itself, mixed with white, the way it dries down. In part by accident--directed, though--a kind of intuition as to just what can happen. Nevertheless, almost always a surprise, when the color becomes light. Bonnard's idea--if he could keep a motif clearly in mind, he could work on the painting for twenty years. Morandi, though--immediacy, all in the touch. One pass, sometimes, and it was complete...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Wayside pool, touches of white, but it was her hair, finally, that took hold--the shape widening inexplicably, old style, as if gathered, and pulled in at the back--like someone from Ireland, recently arrived--Brooklyn, maybe, or Corlear's Hook--Pearl Street, St. James Place, Gouveneur Lane... As in Sebald, that specific sense of the past, carried by place names, scraps of print, a landscape happened on by chance... There's no knowing, really, only a rose-colored dress, from years before, now worn again, a kind of remembering...