Friday, April 11, 2008

Lesser Known Artists and the Kindness of the Muse

When I took a hard right turn from pursuing visual art in college I landed on creative writing and earned a degree from San Francisco State. Memory is a funny thing, so I think my reflections now are very different from what was actually going on then. That being said, creative writing felt safer than art -- partly because I don't think I ever pictured myself as an actual working writer. I'm not sure I really gave fiction writing my full energies, but I did meet some incredibly gifted writers through that program, including my lifelong friend, Becky.

Poetry, on the other hand, was my strong point and there is one particular poem I wrote that, after all these years, I can still remember -- probably because it's very short. A poetry teacher took us all to the old San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (I'm not sure if that's even what it was called back then, but it was in an old building on Van Ness Street. If anyone knows the museum I'm talking about, please let me know) to see an exhibit by Lee Krasner -- an amazing abstract artist who suffered the distinction of being married to Jackson Pollock. In case you're wondering why Krasner's name is hotlinked here and Pollock's is not it's because Krasner spent her artistic career in Pollock's shadow and this is just my small way of paying tribute. If you want to know more about Jackson Pollock, use Google like everyone else...

The intent of the field trip was to use visual art as inspiration for poetry and the written word, but to me it was more about a holistic approach to art in general. Seeing those paintings was both inspiring for me and uncomfortable, but most importantly, left me feeling like I wanted to described that moment when art -- whatever genre you choose -- just works. When the muse is present and inhabits you. When the artist is the process, and the process is the artist, and every cell of your body is immersed, and when you're done it's like regaining consciousness.

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