Thursday, June 15, 2017

Solace through eyes and ears

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” — Twyla Tharp, American dancer, choreographer and author

SINCE the election, I haven't been what you'd call, very chipper. I'm disappointed in the result, obviously, but more than that, I'm distraught that such a narcissistic, shallow, infantile, cruel, selfish, intentionally ignorant person as SCROTUS* even exists in the world!

*So-called ruler of the United States 

I mean, come on! What's happened to natural selection? This is not someone who is good for humanity or the planet. And speaking of what's good for the planet, we as a species certainly aren't. My opinion? The Earth ought to shake us off and try again.

The only thing that gives me any optimism about the human race is witnessing moments of exceptional creativity and artistry.

Have you seen the video that's been making the rounds of Mandy Harvey, who is deaf, singing on America's Got Talent? She's enough to convince me to give humanity at least a few more minutes on the Universal clock.

Paul and I are both such suckers for art and music. He's all about the ears . . . he's a musician after all. I'm designer, and so for me it's all about what goes in my eyes. Living with him has been a 25-year music lesson, and from his point of view, he's spent that same length of time learning visual discrimination. I've listened to thousands of hours of jazz, he's toured art museums with me around the country, and we're both impressed by how much the other has absorbed.

Since early May Paul has been trying to make my eyes happy by treating me to art. For my birthday he bought me a metal, welded bat I'd admired . . . the flying kind, not the kind I might be tempted to use on HWSNBN*.

*he who shall not be named 

I was curious about the creator of our new houseguest, so I called the shopkeeper to enquire. The maker is Henry Dupere — or at least he was the original designer. Henry died, but his wife continues his work. Here's a bit about him from his website:

"During his career as an aircraft welder, toolmaker and manufacturing engineer, Henry Dupere tinkered with metal sculpting in his spare time, and his efforts were often rewarded by delighted responses from his friends and co-workers. Finally after 18 years in industry, he gave in to his creative instincts and relocated his family to Arizona to pursue a career as a full time artist."

In April both my ears and Paul's were charmed when we were guests of friends Shawn and Shari Mullen at the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble gala. I didn't realize that Shawn would be one of the performers until we arrived! There were individual singers, duets, small groups and large-ensemble performances, and Shawn sang and played both alone and in several of the ensembles. 

Shawn performing Copperline on April 22, 2017

The evening included a silent auction, and one of the items was a sculpture by Jason Wilson, artist and owner of Dane Fabrication. I thought highly of it and asked Paul if he'd object if I put in a bid. We watched it all evening, and we were the only offer, but at the last moment there was a frenzied round of bidding that we didn't feel we could beat. I kept Jason's card, however, and contacted him the following week to ask him if he would consider making a duplicate for the amount of our original bid. I didn't think we had a snowball's chance, but he was kind enough to say yes.

You can see from the photos that it's a sculpture of Iowa corn stalks and tassels, but what makes it even cooler is that it's made out of salvaged plow parts. There are also two receptacles incorporated, one for bird seed, the other for water, and there are places to affix actual ears of corn.

All along I thought Paul had just been indulging me, but once we were notified that the sculpture was done . . . goodness, I haven't seen him this animated about anything for a long time. As it turned out, he had loved our potential work of art from the start as much as I had, but just like when he finished his University of Iowa degree last year, he only allowed himself to get excited once it was real. He installed our new work of art this past Tuesday.    

Yesterday Paul further enabled my art addiction by purchasing a mixed media piece I've had my eye on for several months. There's an unprepossessing little emporium next door to the tailor we use, and I'd stopped in several times and admired Stephanie Dillon's compositions. Paul happened to go with me yesterday, and when I showed him her work, he too was smitten. So lucky me, I got to take the one below home. It's called Baby and the Dingo Swim with the Fishes — mixed media: acrylic, watercolor, ink, gouache and oil pastels with a section of a map affixed.

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