Monday, March 14, 2011

Tucson Artist Melinda: Everything Was Times Ninety

The evolution of a work, from emotional response, experiential context, and how memory becomes matter

The living room is connected to the strawbale studio, and the strawbale studio is connected to the living room, which is connected to a built-in bookcase. This bookcase holds "tchotchkes, gewgaws (from wikipedia)," and even a few lagniappes with the books. However, there was an item that I passed by every day that began to whisper, "Think of me. Remember me. Say something about me."

It was a preserve jar filled with the luminous and pristine Pensacola beach sand collected back in the 1960s when I lived there as a kid. It is perfect and clean. It is without tar balls.

One child's saving from a time so distant it almost seems Edenic compared to our world today.
Image © 2011 Melinda S. Esparza

It shouted to me, Irony! Synchronicity! Look, that sand is in a preserve jar! I saw a connection. This connection was leaping through time right into 2010 and the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico of 2010. The oil spill continued for ninety days, from April 20, 2010 to July 15th.

Now what?

Today, I am sitting here thinking about how life becomes a kind of 'everything is times ninety' regimen. Tragedy and mayhem, a ninety million good deeds by ninety million people, the working of an inspiration toward a comment both beautiful and disturbing, feeling as though we are repeating the same acts, making the same gestures (and mistakes), while one lovely spring day contains the deaths of two neighbors, the full throated song of birds heralding the end of winter and the end of an era, juxtaposed with a birthday (not mine, but a loved one's) so miraculous that words are quieted by joy and gratitude and laughter.

How will I illustrate a small act of saving without maudlin, heavy handed gestures? I cannot paint it. It must be assembled.

More soon...

10 comments:

Edgar said...

There's so much here, and so much not here, where to start?

I'll start at the end. You have spun me off into 2D speculation land... It's always hard to make "a picture with a point" without being heavy handed/maudlin. This is a huge challenge for any representational/conceptual artist (and by 'huge' I mean Donald Trump 'huuuuge').

Does postmodernism succeed at this, sometimes? I think sometimes it does, by distancing the artist from a literal reading of the issue. And then sometimes it's just obscured to the point of opacity. I always thought modernist formalism had a much tougher job at this (thinking of 'Guernica'), because the rules got in the way of the expression.

You've thrown me so far out there, I don't even know 'down' any more. Thanks for tickling the ganglia.

Melinda said...

I had no idea, Edgar! I'm glad this has got you thinking, cuz you've certainly helped enough on the project: Buying materials, running errands, photographing the work.

It is possible for painters to do this, but in this case, stuff needed to be gathered.

Hang on! You don't want to crash.

Barbara Muir said...

Dear Melinda,

I too have a jar like this. It holds sand from Nova Scotia and sea glass. (I collect jars like this).I finally threw out my Bermuda sand from long ago...
I love that you have saved this jar of hope.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxBarbara

Melinda said...

Hi Barbara,
It used to be something that we did a lot of as children, isn't it? Collecting rocks, even special sticks, could be special to a child.

Virtual hugs!

laura said...

Very provocative, and evocative, Melinda.
I have a jar too, well, a bottle, into which I used to drop very carefully selected (!) small pebbles from the beach.
I still have it; it makes me think of that person I was and how important the process of selection was to her.

Melinda said...

Hi Laura,
I am glad that you are 'provoked and evoked' by this post. I hope that's a good thing.

Having a few cliff hangers is my way of sharing the development of the sculpture/installation I'm slowly revealing.

Stay tuned. Don't turn that dial!

And, thank you for commenting!

Linny D. Vine said...

Treasures, treasures lost, words arranged in a way that become a treasure to read, and then the ancicipation as we wait for the newest treasure to be revealed - Magical Melinda!

Melinda said...

Thank you, Linny. Hope I'm more "magical" than frustrating with the cliff hangers.

Virtual hugs!

Donald Diddams said...

"how memory becomes matter"... your post, especially the last long paragraph, is so poetic and heartfelt. The sand in the jar becomes a symbol of so much. Already you have illustrated your point without becoming maudlin or heavy hadned. This series of tantalizing tidbits will be a part of the art.

Melinda said...

Thank you, Donald. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to have an insight while tapping this keyboard.

You're getting it, the feeling I got as I saw the jar in relation to the event.

I'm hoping that in the retelling of the journey toward finished piece, viewers will get a small taste of its development.

I think your work also makes memory into matter--in a most intriguing way.

p. s. I did put on my finest art speak hat for this one. ;-)