Forging ahead

Last week I was on the road, traveling to Toronto, Niagara, and generally motoring all over western New York, which means I didn't get anything done on the book, and if I hadn't written last week's blog posts before I left they wouldn't have been written.

Now we're back home, and I have a lot to catch up on.  I'll make this post quick for both our sakes.

In Toronto, we went to the Art Gallery of Ontario [AGO], the Gehry-designed museum.  (He grew up in that neighborhood.)  They had an exhibit of Georgia O'Keeffe, of all people, and it was wonderful. We've been to the O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, where we didn't actually see a lot: the main exhibit hall was being renovated, and her really major works are elsewhere anyway.

AGO pulled together a comprehensive overview of her career from many sources, and it was a thing of beauty.  O'Keeffe, it has seemed to me, is an artist whose exhibited work shows very little evidence of ABORTIVE ATTEMPTS.  It doesn't look as if she's just plopped something out there and then fixed it; everything looks very sure-handed.

I know this is an illusion, but I haven't figured out by examining her work close up how she managed it.

Anyway, on the walls of the exhibit were quotes from her letters and journals, and I liked this one:

In the book, I use the poet Wallace Stevens' image of the garden as metaphor for creativity: the universe is wild and chaotic, and we as humans tame as much of it as we can into our own personal gardens.  The creative person (i.e., all of us) looks for doors in the garden walls, out into the chaos of the universe, where we seek to tame a little more of it and add to our gardens.

I like O'Keeffe's "making your unknown known" as the same kind of thing, and I especially like the idea of forging so far into the chaos that your unknown is behind you.  She certainly seemed to be able to do this throughout her very long life.  Get so far out there in the jungle that you have no choice but to make sense of it.  Make a new garden. Make the Thing That Is Not.

Go ye and do likewise.


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