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Each of us has our own unique GPS system... Truth-telling is the most thorough navigation tool.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mark Rothko feared: "One day the black will swallow the red."


When most of my girlfriends were getting married the first time or having their first babies, I was involved with an artist four years older than my father. He had been famous in the 60s, when I was a young child. He had been involved in the Washington Color School, was an artist’s artist, had taught at the Corcoran Gallery, his paintings hung in many museums, and was still committed to Abstract Expressionism. I used to sit at his feet and spend long hours walking the streets of our nation’s Capitol, mesmerized by his Southern accent as he discussed many subjects he had studied and mastered in order to come to the conclusions he had by the age of fifty-five.

I include the story of this relationship in my book, COURTING ME(N). It is called The Artist: Painter of the Dancing Circles. Ours was a very brief union but it was archetypal for both of us. He was Pygmalion, I was Galatea. Being with me in his 55th year had him all of a sudden come back to life, paint again after many years of disillusionment, drop weight, and feel hope once more. He who had painted dots, or circles, inspired by me finally put onto the canvas thoughts of transformation inspired in him by The Tibetan Book of the Dead

I recently saw the play RED, which is about Mark Rothko at the Los Angeles Mark Taper Forum. I remember in 1983 Thomas Victor Downing was always talking to me about Rothko and Barnett Newman. At that time I thought he was telling me about three separate artists.

My last physical encounter with Tom was when he gave me the red painting (which looked like a red curtain going up or coming down on a stage) he'd painted for me called ORTUS. Ortus was the name of an Ezra Pound poem that had special significance for him, and he hoped for me. 

Ezra Pound

How have I laboured?
How have I not laboured
To bring her soul to birth,
To give these elements a name and a centre!
She is beautiful as the sunlight, and as fluid.
She has no name, and no place.

How have I laboured to bring her soul into separation

To give her a name and her being!

Surely you are bound and entwined,
You are mingled with the elements unborn;
I have loved a stream and a shadow

I beseech you enter your life,
I beseech you learn to say ‘I’,
When I question you;
For you are no part, but a whole,
No portion, but a being.

A few years ago I studied all the major artists via Netflix biographical films. I was completely taken in by the Rothko story. When I was twenty-three, I didn't understand much of what Tom was telling me about life, philosophy, art, the hypocrisy of consumerism and its effect on art. Tom left the planet twenty-eight months after I left him.

As I finish final edit of my book, as I prepare my web page to explain to the world my fifty-two year labor of love I know I have brought my soul into separation, but I still question if I have the technical ability to share what I've learned with the audience I was told twenty years ago is ready and waiting.

I recently did a Virtual Blog Writing Day with Denise Wakeman.  There are so many technical ways to connect with my audience now, that there weren't five years, much less fifteen years ago. There are so many who can do this in their sleep, the reaching out online and telling their story. So many of them charge lots of money to help those with selfish stories they feel must be told. But I'm not just telling my story. I'm telling many stories that will affect many lives. I trust that the right connections in the perfect moment will help me unfold my gift while I still have the time to get it out there.

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