MacDowell, half way home (repost)

Sept. 19th, 2011

Today marks my halfway point at MacDowell. It’s going so quickly, yet time stands still. We poetically watched Groundhogs Day in Colony Hall the other day as a group. I am discovering that one of the things I love about this place is the fellowship between the colonists. There is a constant conversation that is drenched in support and curiosity for each other’s work. Some people come and get stuck, others are stuck when they arrive. That is all ok; you won’t be stuck for long.

I came with a plan, which I started. It quickly became a back burner project. I guess I needed a jumping off point. Maybe the fresh air cleared the concrete and saw dust from my brain. Sitting in the woods of New Hampshire for a week and a half, drawing, reading, writing and talking does amazing things for the clarity in your thinking. Stepping outside of my comfort zone wasn’t so uncomfortable. Now I’m not sure I am interested in going back.

Honestly, I was a little bummed to find only one other visual artist when I arrived. We have several writers, poets and composers. A puppeteer, filmmaker, and now 2 more visual artists have joined the group. I think I was hoping it would be a big group of painters and sculptors, but now I don’t think I would have learned as much. I’ve become a sponge here; maybe Atlanta was drying me out. I’ve always known it was good to go away and come back fresh.

Saturday night we had a huge costume party to celebrate the 3 birthdays last week. It was held in Lindsey’s studio and the theme was “come as you art”. The task was tall. The writers and poets came as literary works of art; others came as visual works of art. I came as Banksy’s wonderful tag of the guy throwing the Molotov cocktail that has been replaced with a bouquet of flowers. So I made a shirt to illustrate what I was actually dressed as. It was a great time and I am told it didn’t end until 2 in the morning when Feliz was still dancing, but had collapsed to the floor, continuing on her back. Julia won the costume contest, just beating out “Frida Kahlo” by one vote.

Yesterday was a day to get out of the studio and off campus. A small group of us headed to Mass MOCA in North Adams, MA. Along the way we stopped at the Blue Ben diner in Bennington, VT. Which is a beautiful, classic diner, one of the best in the country. We drove through the small back roads of Vermont and witnessed the devastation of the hurricane a few weeks ago. Roads, building and thousands of trees washed downstream. After being raised in s small town that understands how important covered bridges can be to the local and cultural economy, it was heart breaking to witness the aftermath. It seemed trivial to stop to buy ice cream and maple syrup on a mountaintop. But, they could use any support they can get for their economy.

Mass MOCA was very cool and well worth the day trip. The Sol LeWitt show was stunning and physically impressive. I’ve assisted on the installation of two of his wall drawing in my recent past. But the scale of the drawings combined with the square footage of each floor was impressive, but take it times 3. It took 6 months to install these beautiful drawings, and every one of them were just as impressive as the last.

The Katharina Grosse installation was enormous and a technical feat of its own. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed with the install, but the more time I spent in it, the more impressive it became. It was like walking through one of Turner’s enormous iceberg paintings. I would have loved to take my son through both exhibitions to get his reaction.

It is worth noting that today is Spencer’s last day at MacDowell. Spencer is a poet, and now a priest. He is moving to Madrid, Spain in less than 2 weeks. Spencer is one of those people who will generously share his life’s most intimate struggles with you. He projects a love for life that is infectious. Its cruel how life can hand you people that you don’t really know, but you know you didn’t get enough. Thank you for your kindness Spencer, Madrid will be a richer city with your presents.