Friday, March 27, 2020

Musings in a Time of Crisis VIII

. . . we don't enter it [a work of art] all at once, we enter it
in spaces, and they all add up to  the work, to the whole. . . .
~ Percival Everett
"Trout Fishing in America" in BookForum, Apr/May 2020

Since reading the interview with Percival Everett, I've been thinking about his quote about visual art, how he has to "steal glimpses" of such work as Jackson Pollock's before he can fully understand it. He applies the "lesson" he says he learned about art to writing as well, pointing out that when working on a novel, he does his best to not think about "ideas about writing." Rather, he just does the writing, lets whatever part he's working on move through him for however long it needs to become what it will be.


Jeanie Tomanek, In Place, 2020
Acrylic on Panel
8" x 8"

Used With Permission

I look at and read about art all day throughout a day. One thing I'm giving extra attention to is how visual artists are responding to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis. Some are sharing uplifting images, especially paintings of beautiful flower arrangements and gardens, birds, and landscapes, or abstracts in cool colors; some are posting images of work specific to the season of Lent, to remind us of the need for reflection and contemplation; and some are posting images of spring, which arrived with the virus itself. Others are directly referencing the crisis. One is Jeanie Tomanek, whom I have featured in my Artist Watch column at Escape Into Life. She is a figurative and allegorical painter whose narratives touch upon the lives of women. Jeanie painted the work above. Its reds and blacks and grays make it an intensely strong work; the white, mere lines of it, illustrate what is disappearing in the flames of the hell we're experiencing. Its title, "In Place", speaks directly what people the world over are doing, must do, to protect themselves during the pandemic. Note, however, the sharpness of the lone female figure's heart-shaped face and also the glasses, one lens of which is blacked-out, the other still somewhat clear. Those glasses represent a duality—the closure of our minds to what is happening, the need for clarity and truth. A searching for hope.


If you are on social media, you've probably seen, if not used yourself, these hashtags: #ShelterInPoems, #ArtCanHelp, #PoetrySaves. Use them. Believe in them.

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