Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Geneve Journal: Par Avion

Per the previous post, I checked, and there is yet a faint perfume hanging over just a couple of the letters all these 20 years later.
But the point of this revisitation is not to rehash the romantic misfires of youth, it is about what that diversionary hath wrought, which is much of everything that's come since.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Geneve Journal: Swiss Chris

At about this point in the year, the twenty-year-ago me was contending with the confusion and desperation a broken heart in the making.  I guess the heart had already been broken (although, from the scant few journal entries from this period, I seemed mildly unaware of the prognosis) but the hope surrounding the situation yet had some life - but it wouldn't last.  

Her nationality: Swiss.  Her name; Sonia.  She was one of a group of students on a Summer (the Summer before) exchange program.  My parents signed on to be one of the host families...for one (Ms. Magali Aubert).

She was crystal greygreen eyes and a coiled sea of black hair.  It was that black mass of hair paired with black leather jacket that drew me through the parking lot of Arapahoe Community College.  The prospect of international co-ed ambassadorship appealed to me and a handful of my compatriots.  That first day of this saga, we collected a group of the students gathered in front of the college to take in the Denver Black Arts Festival. 

Her time in Denver - some five weeks -  is marked on in my journal with just two entries:

My attention was ignited by her as I drove through the parking lot of the community college that was the academic home away from home for the students.  I had met my exchange sister. ....As I pulled up to the group of students lounging on the lawn, her black nest of hair captured my attention at 30 yards and closing.  Crystal eyes set deep in a bronzy sea and .......coils of black hair.  I was transfixed.  She was in Denver for about a month, I think.  It was intense.  Her time in Denver is marked on in my journal with just two entries - from which I'll spare you. 

Driving to the airport with Bri to see her off, there was some sort of solar phenomenon occurring,  It was probably simply a very heavy fog on an otherwise crisply bright Denver morn.  Bri: "dude, check out the sun."  Me: Oh man, that's wild".  The two of us staring in silence - for longer than a prudent moment..  Soon, sumthing like:
"My eyes feel funny"
"I wasn't going to say anything, but mine do too."

An unflinching unknowing stare rendering blindness and pain.

That's sort of an overarching, poetical, comment relating to the love and loss in a dream of Swiss. - our actual eyes ended up fine.  No actual blindness occurred that day.

She was in tears.  I, as was to be more fully expressed in later years and in later relationships was emotionally unaffected.  unfazed.  I was hit by it later.

What ensued was a flurry of written correspondences.  Multiple letters were arriving per week.  Each one fragrantly recalling her being.  I can't recall the scent now, although I don't doubt catching a whiff of it would hit a nerve.  The scent clung to her letters some years later when I was reorganizing my storage.  I imagine it's passed on now.  I'll give you an update as I'll be carousing through my storage in the coming days.

That twenty-years-past Spring met up the threatening end of a utopian fantasy.  It was the first time I remember regretting death.  Not fearing so much, but regretting that the life I dreamed I'd have with her would one day be cut short by the death of one of us.  I was scraping peeling paint and the tendrils of a vine from a white picket fence when I first came upon this particular death anxiety.

If memory recalls, slightly before this point in that year, the revelry of visiting the mailbox turned to yet another source of anxiety.  What new confirmation that she had moved on would be her reply to one of my begging missives.  Seeing that red/blue half-chevron bound envelope caused my heart to drop to my knees.  So focused was I, so intent on attaining the goal ....and so on edge was I that I swore, that even though my reason for scrimping and working multiple jobs around my class schedule with the intent of saving money to travel to Switzerland had ceased to exist, if I didn't actually leave this country, something drastic would occur.

I went to Geneva after that Spring semester.  I spent the Summer, largely wandering the streets, visiting the Art & Architecture Library.  Although my thought initially was that I would go to Geneva to live in love, I never really thought about the future.

I only saw her a couple of times during the several months I spent there.  I never returned to school.   The entire experience helped make that decision clear.  But the deal I made with myself that Summer that as long as I was engaged in a pursuit that felt as enriching and enlightening as college might purport to be, I would not return.  Not to study art, at least.
I can't say that at all times I've entirely lived up to that oath.  The attempt to quantify one path over the other is difficult.  But I know for sure that that entire experience twenty year back was a pivot.  Every action, every step along my path since is marked by that season's brand.   It's very possible that I may well have ended up in a place and a mind similar where I am now, but there's no doubt that this situation I'm living in at this moment -and every day that's led up to it- owes it's shape and character to that Summer.

That this is now 20 years hence feels significant, and worthy of an observation.

The idea is to return to Geneva later this year and revisit many places and peoples.  More on this soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


a priority mail

I was excited to receive a Berlin a priori postcard from Angelika the other day.    It's not unusual for me to receive postcards from her when she's in Germanlandia - we are like two love birds in a cage, after all.  I'm I'm not just her lovey dovey, I'm also a funder of her a priori project, which is the reason she has been in Berlin this past week +.   This special funder status has garnered me the special limited edition postcard you see below instead of the usual topless kraut maiden-laden postcard (photo pending) I might otherwise receive.

NYFA (the New York Federation for the Arts) is a fiscal sponsor of a priori, lending the advantage of tax deductable-ness to donors who wish to donate.  Angelika has also incorporated a kickstarter-like menu of incentives for those wishing to fund the project at modest levels.  Additionally, since the a priori project will be an extended one, there is an option to "subscribe" as a funder with regularly scheduled payments through the a priori Artspire page

I'm also eligible to receive a 5"x7" print taken on this Berlin trip - *excited*.

So you too, can be the beneficiary of such goodness by choosing to be a benefactor of Angelika's project.  Of course, I can't guarantee your postcard will include her saying she loves you and misses you...but it's worth a try - of course, that might just cost you more.

You can stay abreast of Angelika's activities on the a priori facebook page.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Luke and You Shall Find

Lean and mean, 2010 collage

On Wednesday of last week, I sat at a table in the basement of Beacon's First Presbyterian Church.  I wasn't alone.   Around the table sat a small group of artists, both from within the church's community and from without.  The occasion was an initial meeting of folks who will be participating in a discussion group/ art project revolving around a shared reading and interpretation of the Gospel of Luke. 
This project, "Who Do You Say That I Am?" - so named by Pastor Ben Larson-Wolbrink is intended to be the first of a series of collaborative/interactive projects bringing together various members of Beacon's community to discuss faith, ecumenical texts, and to build a broader community interaction - creatively. 
One of the catalysts credited in the creation of this kind of interactive project was the controversy spawned by a few of Ron English's works featured in the 2010 Electric Windows project.  The work that raised the most hackles entailed references to Christ or Christianity including crucifixion replete with product logos.  Pointed satire of social, commercial and bureaucratic norms of this country is at the hear of English's work, and the work seen as objectionable by some was very much in keeping with this sensibility. In a search, I couldn't find the offending images.....I did snap this photo of the artist standing before one of his less controversial works that day of the Electric Windows.

Ron English in front of one of his works at the Roundhouse in Beacon, NY during Electric Windows 2010.
I think the way in which this instance works into the impetus to instigate a project like this one being hosted at the First Presbyterian Church is to open a channel of communication where sensitive subjects might be engaged with in a more thoughtful manner.

Elia Gurna introduced me to this project and I was immediately intrigued by the chance to share in a process that approaches a subject of deep meaning in an interpretive, discursive environment.

This kind of project seduces me every time - a chance to experience and interpret a text or a "constant" and then watch the variety of participants' interpretations that manifest.  It's a mainline that whisks me back to Mr Pickering's AP English class and the open forum projects (films, artworks, etc) that he fostered.  I guess I can connect my predilection for interactive creative processes back to Pickering's class - and perhaps it offers me the kind of hothouse environment I subconsciously feel I missed out on by not finishing college...But that's another story - one that is reaching it's 20th anniversary this year.

In addition to reading the text of Luke, I've downloaded an audio version which I intend to play several times over with the thought of what might squeeze out.  I've also found some audio versions in greek (one of them is painfully, but amusingly read by a non greek speaker) in which I intend to immerse myself.  Of course, I don't know a whit of, but why not at least try to get as close to the source as possible.

Finally, for folks who might come here and find the image at the top of the post as objectionable.  I agree.  It's a response to what I see as an objectional exploitation and idolatrous use of Jesus Christ as a kitschy shill for branding an organization's efforts -even non profit ones.  The images of JC used in the Namesake group are all culled from fundraising solicitation material sent to Angelika, since she's such a charitable soul.....and that charitable nature has been commoditized and traded on the Non-Profit-Solicitation-Market in the hopes that she might also contribute to any of the sundry organizations that view themselves as deserving as any other.