My art has always been and I think it will always remain a personal art, and, although, I feel great sadness at the things that are happening in this life, in this world–injustice, wars, floods, earthquakes–it is very hard, for me, to get out of my own head. I’m not a selfish person–I’ve worked all my life taking care of other people. I’d be a nurse even if it paid nothing–which for many years it did (pay nothing). I’ve come to believe that the personal is the true essence of art and that, perhaps, even the “Big Art” that we have come to think of as important is, really, just one individual’s voice. I began “When The Flowers Return To Fukushima” ten weeks ago and worked on it almost daily. In the beginning something didn’t feel right about the drawing. It seemed arrogant on my part to try and depict a tragedy that I didn’t personally experience. I fell in love with the wall murals I had seen in Kyoto and wanted to pay homage to that style. What I didn’t understand was that the Japanese masters who painted those wonderful murals had a unique understanding of space and its relationship to the object. I no more could understand that relationship then, perhaps, they could understand my intimacy with messiness and chaos. The picture, for me, was an unsettling combination of someone else’s art, my art, someone else’s experience and my experience. In the end it didn’t feel true–I tore it up. I’ve destroyed drawings before but this time it was different. I learned so much from this drawing. I spent so much time with it. Some pieces are transitional, but this drawing was so much more than a bridge to something else. Today I woke up and knew something had changed inside me–I am what I am. I can only be this artist–a personal artist, a personal poet. What I’ve come to understand is that The Flowers Have Never Left Fukushima. The Flowers live in the hearts of the Japanese people. The Flowers are their stories and their lives. Thanks to “When The Flowers Return to Fukushima” I’ve learned that art is not so much about “escaping one’s self” as about “finding one’s self”. I, therefore, have come to think that my best drawings and my best poems are those drawings and poems that don’t exist anymore, those drawings and poems that took me to a painful place and brought me back again to the reality of who I am and what I can accomplish in this life. Thank you, to everyone who takes time to visit and follow this blog. You are few but mighty and I, certainly, aprreciate your support!
I had a yellow Opal when I was young. It was my first car (at least the first car that I brought with my own money). Needless to say; it was a terrible car! It cost me more money in repairs than anything I’ve ever owned! It would die in the driveway of my house, on the road to the store, in the parking lot at work, and in the parking lots of every bar and disco in Manhattan and Long Island. Indeed, it surely had been pushed, towed, kicked, and cursed more than any car ever made or driven. Still, I loved it! To me nothing was cooler than pulling into Uncle Sam’s or Copperfield’s in that yellow abomination. Oh, yes, and the late night excursions into Manhattan, me in the driver’s seat, my Big-Haired Buddies packed into the passenger seats, disco pounding out of the car’s radio, the Opal’s engine throbbing in response to the heavy disco beat! We danced more in that car than we ever danced at those over-priced Manhattan discos. I knew then that it wasn’t normal for a car’s engine to shimmy like that but I would bump and grind that little yellow car over the Fifty-Ninth Street Bridge irregardless! What gold-chained, slick-haired, dressed-to-the-teeth bad boy could steal me away from my Yellow Opal? No one compared to my cars. I’d sit in those bars/clubs watching my friends dance until their lofty hair-do’s were as flat as the beer I was sipping. Clutching the car keys in my sweaty hand, I’d spend the entire night wondering if the Opal would start, and if it started, would it drive, and if it drove, would it go the distance? The Opal like a cat had nine lives but my wallet had only one or two and, and, sad to say, I just got tired of repairing the darn thing. It died for the final time in my driveway and my mother, my sister and I pushed it to the gas station across the street. It didn’t take long for the final diagnosis to be given–the Opal was a lemon! My God!, I’d owned a lemon– like I didn’t know that from the first week of proud Opal ownership! You didn’t have to tell me that the car was bad; I had the invoices from every gas station in New York to prove it! What I learned, however, from that final consultation was why it was bad! The darn thing had the wrong- sized engine! Yes, the engine didn’t fit the car–it wasn’t an Opal engine. Unfortunately I never found out whose engine it was, perhaps, it belonged to Ford (Found On The Road Dead) or Fiat (Fix It Again Tony)–we weren’t politically correct in the 80’s. So I gave the ghost up that day, when I realized I’d been taken by Opal and by every mechanic that had ever fixed the darn car. Now you may ask yourself what the Opal has to do with the picture embedded in this post? Well, everything and, perhaps, nothing. I’ve been off kilter myself lately and I know it has something to do with my engine. I’ve got a bad engine too! I don’t know whether my body’s too big and my heart is too small, or my heart is too big and my body’s too small. You tell me because you probably have the same problem. All around us people are suffering–tsunami’s, earthquakes, floods! Something’s not right with the earth and we’re not doing anything about it! Sure we recycle our cans, we have those strange lightbulbs in our kitchen and bathroom, we turn off the computer when we’re not using it but is that enough? I know I’m not doing enough. I still love bad cars and I cheat on my recycling! Oh, yes, and then there’s the paper thing! My carbon footprint is enormous like my ass (I didn’t say that)! The picture is the beginning of a series–sure I’m going to use paper–a series about the 2011 Tsunami in Japan. I don’t know why but I feel drawn to the event and I want to do something besides giving money. Maybe I was wrong not to fix the Opal’s engine? Maybe I should have made an effort to right-size that beloved yellow beast? Maybe I need to get out of my head and try to fix the earth, the world, and, perhaps, in the effort learn how to fix myself!