Field Workers Cabins, Those Silly Trees, Bird Watching

From Peggy McGivern’s solo show ‘Beyond the Iron Curtain,’ verse by Peter Stravlo, Opening Reception March 20, 6-9pm, Abend Gallery, Colfax and York, Denver, CO. Eastern European Folk inspired music by Mark Dudrow and Chipper Thompson
http://abendgallery.com/html_shows/15-peggy-mcgivern-solo/

Field Workers Cabins
The field workers cabins appeared around a façade of forest, ambled in the clear-cut, curving up up and away over a denuded landscape. Gray wood planks like chicken coops, troughs sloshing with river water. Maybe there had been a fire. Only two faces revealed themselves through the windows, lined and ashen, fearful, shirtless despite the chill. We imagined a sickness, a reason to be there, to look like that. We backed up, turned around, exited the muddy ruts we came in on. Or was it our own reflection we did not want to recognize, a sickness, a reason to be there, to look like that.

Those Silly Trees
Unusual shapes are disconcerting
Tones slightly different than your comfort zone

Walking under thin branches makes you skittish
Brittle sticks swaying wide and leafless over your head

So open your eyes, your ears, let the foreign air seep into your pores
Step by step, a few blocks, pause to take in the view, reminiscent of a childhood memory

You think the dining room walls would look great in those colors
Now you are in stride

A breeze plays with the branches
Their song stuck in your head

Those Silly Trees will flourish in your backyard

Bird Watching
Why, when we learned to fly, were feathers not part of the equation?
No flapping quick quick quick or one graceful slow manipulation of air soaring the miracle of feathers into wings.
All those elongated foreheads so soft and innocent like a child you want to reach out and run your fingers.
Beaks smelling and pecking and part-time feet hopping and jumping, but not a plane bouncing rubbery to a stop.
Primary colors much deeper than that.
In awe. A-gape. Agape.
The hair on my arms stand up but I do not leave terra firma.
Birds are not communists or capitalists nor do they share our religions.
Though it is impossible to imagine them without spirit.
My balding head white calves extra chin the curve of my paunch I insist on paving the ground and still wear shoes and the miracle is; we too are the same everywhere.

Letter to Dan Ellis

Dan,

Good to hear from you. Hopefully your strategic successes will overwhelm your tactical challenges.

I have included my friend, Ed Lawry, in this discussion, as Ed is not only a storied philosopher, but a scholar of aesthetics as well.

As for Kant. Though it’s likely I live much of his philosophy each day, it’s been a long time since I’ve read him. I am reading mainly fiction and poetry these days. As much as philosophy teaches me, at this point in my life I am focused on fiction and poetry to enrich my understanding, allowing me to break the bonds of analytics.

For Kant Psychological principals would be those governing our thought processes. The laws of cause and affect, for instance, are reflections of the structure of our mind/brain (let’s not complicate things with Descartes for the moment.) We think one thing causes another because we consistently see the first thing occur immediately preceeding the second (constant conjunction), and our mind posits that the first must be the cause of the second. It’s a very happy way of walking around the world without falling off a cliff.

What we don’t really know is whether this way of making sense of the world corresponds to the way the world really is, or if it’s merely a result of the way our mind must, due to the way it’s structured, process our perceptions.

Thus we live our lives ‘as if’ we perceive and understand ‘things in themselves.’

But we can never know ‘things in themselves.’ We only know things as we perceive them. Thus both empirical and psychological principals are based on our perceptions, which may or may not correspond to the ‘real’ world, and thus could never function as a reliable basis of a true demonstrated science.

This brings me to ‘Art For Your World,’ the statement on your website.

I have never thought of the mantra ‘art for art’s sake,’ as imposing such a weighty obligation on the viewer. A freeing of the artist, certainly.

Now I am going to bastardize Descartes. ‘I create, therefore I am.’

One of the great lessons I took from running the gallery is my definition of a true artist. It was a great experience to help so many aspiring artists exhibit for the first time. Most were, as you were at the time, burdened with the unreasonable capitalist imposition of paying rent.

You had to do your art after work, on the weekends, using your sick days that I did not pay you for.

I discovered that some people have to create. Like my beautiful wife Peggy McGivern, they have to physically change the world they live in. This is what I call a true artist.

Many people love art, and many are smitten with the romantic notion of being an artist, or bohemian, or rebel, or don’t like their life.

But a true artist is compelled to create. It’s therapy, exercise, as necessary as breathing, filtering ‘things in themselves’ through the nose hairs of their minds, existing ‘as if’ the cause and effect structure of their existence was malleable, invoking the same instinct to control their world as Kant is trying to understand when he embarks upon ‘The Critique of Pure Reason.’

Is it, as you suggest, a failure of the modern art avant-gard if the artist does not have the viewer in the back of her or his mind when comsumed by creation?

Is the viewer sinning when s/he doesn’t at least attempt to take the artist’s intentions into account?

Maybe we all just owe it to ourselves to contemplate creation; seen, heard, felt, processed, as if…

Give my love to Brenda,