Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Paphlagonian Man: "The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely."

Source



When, said Perkins-Vance, was the last time he’d had contact with another person? 
Sometime in the 1990s, answered Knight, he passed a hiker while walking in the woods. 
"What did you say?" asked Perkins-Vance. 
"I said, ’Hi,’ " Knight replied. 
Other than that single syllable, he insisted, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this night, for twenty-seven years. 
When I mentioned Thoreau, who spent two years at Walden, Chris dismissed him with a single word: "dilettante." 
True hermits, according to Chris, do not write books, do not have friends, and do not answer questions. I asked why he didn’t at least keep a journal in the woods. Chris scoffed. "I expected to die out there. Who would read my journal? You? I’d rather take it to my grave." The only reason he was talking to me now, he said, is because he was locked in jail and needed practice interacting with others. 
"But you must have thought about things," I said. "About your life, about the human condition." 
Chris became surprisingly introspective. "I did examine myself," he said. "Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free." 
That was nice. But still, I pressed on, there must have been some grand insight revealed to him in the wild. 
He returned to silence. Whether he was thinking or fuming or both, I couldn’t tell. Though he did arrive at an answer. I felt like some great mystic was about to reveal the Meaning of Life. 
"Get enough sleep." 
Please, he begged, leave me alone; we are not friends. I don’t want to be your friend, he said, I don’t want to be anyone’s friend. "I’m not going to miss you at all," he added.

Source

Who should come to my lodge this morning but a true Homeric or Paphlagonian man — he had so suitable and poetic a name that I am sorry I cannot print it here — a Canadian, a woodchopper and post-maker, who can hole fifty posts in a day, who made his last supper on a woodchuck which his dog caught. He, too, has heard of Homer, and, "if it were not for books," would "not know what to do rainy days," though perhaps he has not read one wholly through for many rainy seasons. Some priest who could pronounce the Greek itself taught him to read his verse in the Testament in his native parish far away; and now I must translate to him, while he holds the book, Achilles' reproof to Patroclus for his sad countenance. — "Why are you in tears, Patroclus, like a young girl?" 
 "Or have you alone heard some news from Phthia?
  They say that Menoetius lives yet, son of Actor,
  And Peleus lives, son of ├ćacus, among the Myrmidons,
  Either of whom having died, we should greatly grieve." 
He says, "That's good." He has a great bundle of white oak bark under his arm for a sick man, gathered this Sunday morning. "I suppose there's no harm in going after such a thing to-day," says he. To him Homer was a great writer, though what his writing was about he did not know. A more simple and natural man it would be hard to find. Vice and disease, which cast such a sombre moral hue over the world, seemed to have hardly any existence for him. He was about twenty-eight years old, and had left Canada and his father's house a dozen years before to work in the States, and earn money to buy a farm with at last, perhaps in his native country. He was cast in the coarsest mould; a stout but sluggish body, yet gracefully carried, with a thick sunburnt neck, dark bushy hair, and dull sleepy blue eyes, which were occasionally lit up with expression. He wore a flat gray cloth cap, a dingy wool-colored greatcoat, and cowhide boots. He was a great consumer of meat, usually carrying his dinner to his work a couple of miles past my house — for he chopped all summer — in a tin pail; cold meats, often cold woodchucks, and coffee in a stone bottle which dangled by a string from his belt; and sometimes he offered me a drink. He came along early, crossing my bean-field, though without anxiety or haste to get to his work, such as Yankees exhibit. He wasn't a-going to hurt himself. He didn't care if he only earned his board. Frequently he would leave his dinner in the bushes, when his dog had caught a woodchuck by the way, and go back a mile and a half to dress it and leave it in the cellar of the house where he boarded, after deliberating first for half an hour whether he could not sink it in the pond safely till nightfall — loving to dwell long upon these themes. He would say, as he went by in the morning, "How thick the pigeons are! If working every day were not my trade, I could get all the meat I should want by hunting-pigeons, woodchucks, rabbits, partridges — by gosh! I could get all I should want for a week in one day." 
He was a skillful chopper, and indulged in some flourishes and ornaments in his art. He cut his trees level and close to the ground, that the sprouts which came up afterward might be more vigorous and a sled might slide over the stumps; and instead of leaving a whole tree to support his corded wood, he would pare it away to a slender stake or splinter which you could break off with your hand at last. 
He interested me because he was so quiet and solitary and so happy withal; a well of good humor and contentment which overflowed at his eyes. His mirth was without alloy. Sometimes I saw him at his work in the woods, felling trees, and he would greet me with a laugh of inexpressible satisfaction, and a salutation in Canadian French, though he spoke English as well. When I approached him he would suspend his work, and with half-suppressed mirth lie along the trunk of a pine which he had felled, and, peeling off the inner bark, roll it up into a ball and chew it while he laughed and talked. Such an exuberance of animal spirits had he that he sometimes tumbled down and rolled on the ground with laughter at anything which made him think and tickled him. Looking round upon the trees he would exclaim — "By George! I can enjoy myself well enough here chopping; I want no better sport." Sometimes, when at leisure, he amused himself all day in the woods with a pocket pistol, firing salutes to himself at regular intervals as he walked. In the winter he had a fire by which at noon he warmed his coffee in a kettle; and as he sat on a log to eat his dinner the chickadees would sometimes come round and alight on his arm and peck at the potato in his fingers; and he said that he "liked to have the little fellers about him."

Monday, October 24, 2016

John Graves Is Dead


Graves at Hardscrabble on May 31, 2010
Photography by Matt Rainwaters




"The house is the centerpiece of nearly four hundred acres of rough limestone cedar country that John bought in 1960 with part of the proceeds from his masterful first book, Goodbye to a River. It sits on a hillside above White Bluff Creek, which flows into the Paluxy River, which in turn empties into that stretch of the Brazos that John immortalized in the book. Though it was an instant classic and hailed the coming of a major new talent, his publisher, Alfred Knopf, despaired when he heard that John was buying this piece of land. “There goes his next book,” Knopf’s wife, Blanche, groused. Their experience had been that when a writer gets interested in a piece of land, he stops being a writer, at least for a considerable time. Her fears were well-founded. It was fourteen years before John mailed off his second book, which he called Hard Scrabble: Observations on a Patch of Land, a loving meditation on this spread of rocks, cedar, and rushing creeks. “Hardscrabble” indicates a piece of land that approaches but does not completely measure up to useless. It’s the kind of place that only a writer could love and make work. Fortunately, John, who turns ninety this month, is a born writer, one of the best our state has ever produced. “If I hadn’t wasted so much time building and chasing cows,” he confesses, “I could have written a whole lot more. But what the hell, that’s how it was."

“Some days load themselves with questions whose answers have died,
and maybe never mattered hugely” 
 John Graves, Goodbye to a River: A Narrative

Monday, May 16, 2016

Shakespeare's Rival Poet and "A Coronet for His Mistress Philosophy" by George Chapman


Source

There is no decent online collection of Chapman's "A Coronet for His Mistress Philosophy", so I thought I'd reproduce it below.

I have no doubt Chapman was the rival poet referred to in sonnets 78 to 86. And this led me to wonder what sort of poet could make Shakespeare "tongue-tied" (80 & 85) and believe Marlowe's ghost was giving the rival poet nightly aid (86)? 

Chapman's not taught much beyond his translations of the Iliad. My first, and only, encounter in High School was from Keat's"On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer" - with its charming historical blemish preserved for the sake of a syllable, Cortez fitting tighter in the mouth than the unfortunately named Balboa. Later education introduced me to his haunted completion of Marlowe's Hero and Leander and, of course, his Homer.

Chapman's poetry is more rarefied, more esoteric and gnomic than Shakespeare's - it's easy to imagine WS's benumbed, perhaps amused, silence in the face thereof. In sonnet 82, you get a sense of the dismay WS felt in the face of Chapman's verse. There was no way he was going to one-up Chapman's baroque incantations, so he falls back on the simple truth of his plain words, hammering the word "true"  four times deep into the wood:

And do so, love; yet when they have devis'd,
What strained touches rhetoric can lend,
Thou truly fair, wert truly sympathiz'd
In true plain words, by thy true-telling friend;


Now listen to the thought, meter and rhyme in these lines from Chapman:

But dwell in darkness, for your God is blind, 
Humour pours down such torrents on his eyes ; 
Which, as from mountains, fall on his base kind, 
And eat your entrails out with ecstasies. 


I can see young Coleridge, dreaming of Mistress Philosophy but lost in the the opium dream, ringing with Chapman's words - which echo in the last four lines of Kubla Kahn:

Weave a circle round him thrice, 
And close your eyes with holy dread 
For he on honey-dew hath fed, 
And drunk the milk of Paradise.


Then in III:

Her mind the beam of God draws in the fires 
Of her chaste eyes, from all earth's tempting fuel; 
Which upward lifts the looks of her desires, 
And makes each precious thought in her a jewel. 

Compare Pater's famous line:

To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.

In V:

Loathes all her toys, and thoughts cupidinine, 
Arranging in the army of her face 
All virtue's forces, to dismay loose eyne, 
That hold no quarter with renown or grace. 
War to all frailty; peace of all things pure, 
Her look doth promise and her life assure.


I love the stretched meter in the neologism of "cupidinine" rhymed with the archaic plural of eye in "eyne". 

I also hear the echo of the couplet in Dylan Thomas' "Find Meat on Bones":

'War on the spider and the wren! 
War on the destiny of man! 
Doom on the sun!' 


The brutal soul-transforming alchemy in VII:

To living virtues turns the deadly vices; 
For covetous she is of all good parts, 
Incontinent, for still she shows entices 
To consort with them sucking out their hearts


And X, with it's image of the lessor poets as ignorant vulturous creatures, unregenerate to seeds of memory, their sycophantic verse irrelevant:

Far, then, be this foul cloudy-brow'd contempt 
From like-plumed birds: and let your sacred rhymes 
From honour's court their servile feet exempt, 
That live by soothing moods, and serving times: 
And let my love adorn with modest eyes, 
Muses that sing Love's sensual emperies. 


In my own idiosyncratic world of poetry, I imagine Baudelaire degenerate, invoking chant out of spleen to align himself with the scorned vulturine creatures, then to sail high to sing the song of Love's sensual emperies:

So too the Poet, like that prince of space,
Who haunts the storm and scorns the archer's bow:
Mocked, jeered, his giant's wings hobble his pace
When exiled from his heights to earth below.


Lucidius olim = brighter than the past


A Coronet for his Mistress Philosophy

MUSES that sing Love's sensual empery, 
And lovers kindling your enraged fires 
At Cupid's bonfires burning in the eye, 
Blown with the empty breath of vain desires, 
You that prefer the painted cabinet 
Before the wealthy jewels it doth store ye, 
That all your joys in dying figures set, 
And stain the living substance of your glory, 
Abjure those joys, abhor their memory, 
And let my love the honour' d subject be 
Of love, and honour's complete history ; 
Your eyes were never yet let in to see 
The majesty and riches of the mind, 
But dwell in darkness; for your God is blind. 

II. 

But dwell in darkness, for your God is blind, 
Humour pours down such torrents on his eyes ; 
Which, as from mountains, fall on his base kind, 
And eat your entrails out with ecstasies. 
Colour, whose hands for faintness are not felt, 
Can bind your waxen thoughts in adamant ; 
And with her painted fires your heart doth melt, 
Which beat your souls in pieces with a pant. 
But my love is the cordial of souls, 
Teaching by passion what perfection is, 
In whose fix'd beauties shine the sacred scroll, 
And long-lost records of your human bliss, 
Spirit to flesh, and soul to spirit giving, 
Love flows not from my liver but her living. 

III

Love flows not from my liver but her living, 
From whence all stings to perfect love are darted 
All power, and thought of prideful lust depriving 
Her life so pure and she so spotless-hearted. 
In whom sits beauty with so firm a brow, 
That age, nor care, nor torment can contract it ; 
Heaven's glories shining there, do stuff allow, 
And virtue's constant graces do compact it. 
Her mind the beam of God draws in the fires 
Of her chaste eyes, from all earth's tempting fuel ; 
Which upward lifts the looks of her desires, 
And makes each precious thought in her a jewel. 
And as huge fires compress'd more proudly flame, 
So her close beauties further blaze her fame. 

IV

So her close beauties further blaze her fame ; 
When from the world, into herself reflected; 
She lets her shameless glory in her shame, 
Content for heaven to be of earth rejected. 
She thus depress'd, knocks at Olympus' gate, 
And in th' untainted temple of her heart 
Doth the divorceless nuptials celebrate 
'Twixt God and her ; where love's profaned dart 
Feeds the chaste flames of Hymen's firmament, 
Wherein she sacrificeth, for her part ; 
The robes, looks, deeds, desires and whole descent 
Of female natures, built in shops of art, 
Virtue is both the merit and reward 
Of her removed and soul-infused regard. 

V

Of her removed and soul-infused regard, 
With whose firm species, as with golden lances, 
She points her life's field, for all wars prepared, 
And bears one chanceless mind, in all mischances ; 
Th'i nversed world that goes upon her head, 
And with her wanton heels doth kick the sky, 
My love disdains, though she be honoured, 
And without envy sees her empery 
Loathes all her toys, and thoughts cupidinine, 
Arranging in the army of her face 
All virtue's forces, to dismay loose eyne, 
That hold no quarter with renown or grace. 
War to all frailty; peace of all things pure, 
Her look doth promise and her life assure. 

VI

Her look doth promise and her life assure ; 
A right line forcing a rebateless point, 
In her high deeds, through everything obscure, 
To full perfection ; not the weak disjoint 
Of female humours ; nor the Protean rages 
Of pied-faced fashion, that doth shrink and swell, 
Working poor men like waxen Images, 
And makes them apish strangers where they dwell, 
Can alter her, titles of primacy, 
Courtship of antic gestures, brainless jests, 
Blood without soul of false nobility, 
Nor any folly that the world infests 
Can alter her who with her constant guises 
To living virtues turns the deadly vices. 

VII

To living virtues turns the deadly vices; 
For covetous she is of all good parts, 
Incontinent, for still she shows entices 
To consort with them sucking out their hearts, 
Proud, for she scorns prostrate humility, 
And gluttonous in store of abstinence, 
Drunk with extractions still'd in fervency 
From contemplation, and true continence, 
Burning in wrath against impatience, 
And sloth itself, for she will never rise 
From that all-seeing trance, the band of sense, 
Wherein in view of all souls' skill she lies. 
No constancy to that her mind doth move, 
Nor riches to the virtues of my love. 

VIII

Nor riches to the virtues of my love, . 
Nor empire to her mighty government ; 
Which fair analysed in her beauties' grove, 
Shows Laws for care, and Canons for content ; 
And as a purple tincture given to glass, 
By clear transmission of the sun doth taint 
Opposed subjects ; so my mistress' face 
Doth reverence in her viewers' brows depaint, 
And like the pansy, with a little veil, 
She gives her inward work the greater grace; 
Which my lines imitate, though much they fail 
Her gifts so high, and times' conceit so base; 
Her virtues then above my verse must raise her, 
For words want art, and Art wants words to praise her. 

IX.

For words want art, and Art wants words to praise her; 
Yet shall my active and industrious pen 
Wind his sharp forehead through those parts that raise her, 
And register her worth past rarest women. 
Herself shall be my Muse; that well will know 
Her proper inspirations; and assuage 
With her dear love the wrongs my fortunes show, 
Which to my youth bind heartless grief in age. 
Herself shall be my comfort and my riches, 
And all my thoughts I will on her convert; 
Honour, and error, which the world bewitches, 
Shall still crown fools, and tread upon desert, 
And never shall my friendless verse envy
Muses that Fame's loose feathers beautify. 

X

Muses that Fame's loose feathers beautify, 
And such as scorn to tread the theatre, 
As ignorant: the seed of memory 
Have most inspired, and shown their glories there 
To noblest wits, and men of highest doom, 
That for the kingly laurel bent affair 
The theatres of Athens and of Rome, 
Have been the crowns, and not the base impair. 
Far, then, be this foul cloudy-brow'd contempt 
From like-plumed birds: and let your sacred rhymes 
From honour's court their servile feet exempt, 
That live by soothing moods, and serving times: 
And let my love adorn with modest eyes, 
Muses that sing Love's sensual emperies. 

Lucidius olim. 


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Provisional Vs. The Dubious: An Exhibition by Shelton Walsmith


do you believe in life after love?
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
oil on canvas



Shelton Walsmith 

THE PROVISIONAL vs. THE DUBIOUS


Shelton Walsmith is an Brooklyn artist working primarily in the mediums of painting and photography. His work has been published by The Paris Review, Knopf, Vintage, Rizzoli Books, Paris Vogue, Denver Quarterly, Unsaid Magazine and others. He has exhibited internationally, as well as widely in the United States. 
Queens College Art Center, a nimble gallery anchored in Queens and open to the world, is a successor since 1987 of the Klapper Library Art Center that was based in the Queens College Art Library’s gallery founded in 1960. In more than 200 exhibitions to date, it has shown masters like Alice Neel, Joseph Cornell, and Elizabeth Catlett, and introduced scores of artists from around the globe and emerging artists who later went on to major careers. The Art Center focuses on modern and contemporary art, presenting the works of both emerging and established artists in diverse media, in programming expressive of the best of the art of our time. 
Queens College Art Center. 65-30 Kissena Blvd. Flushing, NY11367. telephone: 718.997.3770

Please visit www.sheltonwalsmith.com




caravan
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
oil on canvas


A short series of inane questions and revelatory answers between myself and Shelton:


SC: Who, if anyone, do you look to as an aesthetic compass?

SW: You, Philip Guston, Giorgio Morandi, Francesca Woodman, Andre Tarkovski, Martin Mull, Alfred Stieglitz, Wes Anderson, John Coltrane, Louise Bourgeois

SC: What is your reaction when you compared to other artists?

SW: Righteous indignation. I'm often heard to say, "Well, I never!" Then I hide until they've gone away.


after velasquez and picasso
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
oil on canvas

SC: Is the originality of your work a conscious effort or a natural extension of your style?

SW: I never set out to re-invent the wheel. Ever. I'm more of a follower really. I work in traditional genres trying to slot myself into a wisdom tradition of mark making. Is that pathetic?

SC: Are you aware of any appropriations?

SW: I steal some from Massaccio and Giotto. Again I'm heavily influenced by Martin Mull, I've lifted entire passages from his paintings. When I lived in Barcelona I haunted the Picasso Museum. They have his variations on the masters. I recently repainted Velasquez Las Meninas being as true to the original while incorporating Picasso's charicatured take and adding a figure from the youngers Spaniards' Saltimbanques.

This is how I see painting from any source, be it anonymous or in popular consciousness, unless you're attempting forgery it's always going to be your appropriated interpretation.

SC: Do you believe you have a style, a cultivated aesthetic?

SW: No, unfortunately I am like a man without a country. Wandering.


if anyone gave a hoot she didn't notice
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
oil on wood

SC: What are your thoughts about the role art plays / has in this society - or in the culture at large?

SW: I feel the best art is simply escapism. All else is political pandering.

SC: Are you trying to make "a statement"?

SW: I like what Samuel Goldwyn said although I'm sure he was bloviating and crushing someone's sincere desire to express humanity's mission; "if you want to a send message use Western Union."

But, no, I'm trying to make pictures that tell the story of their process in their finished state. The relic should be haunted.

SC: To what extent does art "make a difference"?

SW: It provides mediation between what the empirical and the improbable; like an arbitrator between what's knowable and the magic we wish was true.

SC: What is the purpose of your work?

SW: To delight and confound.

SC: What are you trying to say?

SW: That my research proves that all that glitters is, indeed, gold. AND that not only is no news not good news; it's not even news!


her name was march
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
acrylic on canvas


SC: Who is the ideal spectator of your work?

SW: Good questions like this stop me cold. I'm glad you ask because I'm pondering this for the first time.

Someone receptive who neither wants nor expects things to make sense who would rather be led down the garden path to wilder shores of love. Okay now I know; it's me or Warren Buffet.

SC: What do you want the public to think about your work?

SW: Ideally, that the work is timeless. That it's a source of humor, light and sexy solace. That it should stay off the fridge, go in a gilded frame and be will lit and well hung prominently for all to see forever. And Ever.

SC: Do you think the ideal observer is relevant to your work?

SW: Observers are imperative because they complete the circuitry. It seems foolhardy to hope or expect the ideal observer will come along. I can't manage that end of production or perception.

SC: What is your works relationship to the observer?

SW: The fifth hand in a game of four handed poker.

SC: What are your thoughts on the current scene in New York, in the US, in the World?

SW: New York is obviously vibrant and exciting and always in flux. I cannot pretend to be a part of the art scene here. I might as well be one of the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz in terms of anonymity I'll work for the witch but if she melts I'll also attend that party. Regarding the US and the world one thing is for certain New York is no longer "The Art Center". The global reality is that there is no longer a center it's dispersed into many strongholds Berlin, London, Tokyo, L.A., Bejing, Houston, Venice...


new soft op
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
oil on canvas


SC: Do you think the art world has relevancy?

SW: I think it's an economic gauge; auction prices are similar to the rise and fall of the NASDAQ.

Communities can gauge and conjecture the virility of gentrification and urban renewal by tracking artist enclaves i.e. the caribou effect. Beyond capitalistic or consumer metrics I think the real relevance is social philanthropy. Problematic probably but public museums are secular educating institutions to which kids of all backgrounds come and go daily. Exposure to cultural diversity through the art of the ages and varied social strata is relevant.

SC: What are your thoughts on the commodification of art via the galleries?

SW: Capitalism will eventually be replaced with a better system but for now it's a reality inseparable from goods and services in the western world. Whether it's a navaho blanket for $150 or a John Currin painting for $150,000 the value of art is only a commodity to those involved in the trade. For the rest of us it remains a resonant object. Art lasts longer than money. I can prove it.

SC: Is it possible for an artist to survive, for their work to attain relevancy, without participating in the social aspects of the art world?

SW: Not a living artist. It's like the lottery you've gotta be in it to win it. Unfortunately.



servants to illusion no.6; the clinicians
Shelton Walsmith - 2013
watercolor on paper

SC: What are your thoughts on those artists who create only to appeal to "investors / collectors"?

SW: My thoughts are I wish they would tell me how to do this because it's unicorn hunting as far as I can tell.

SC: Do you believe that the successful artist has been corrupted by capitalism?

SW: The whole world has. Successful artists seem to hire assistants to execute their designs.

Is that corrupt. Successful is relative term. The artist Wayne White is very successful but he claims not to have the Fuck You money that allows an elite group to do as they please. David Foster Wallace was successful but like Stephen King? Compare Jasper Johns success to John Cage; Amy Sillman to Amy Mahnick.

I guess market success and artistic achievement are not always equivalent...I'm rambling because success for me is like a rubics cube.

SC: How can an artist, an artist true to his vocation, survive in today's world?

SW: In the words of Charles Dickens his 'work must be it's own recompense.'
How can anyone survive their own desire to have more than they can make?


waiter
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
digital file, giclee print on canvas


SC: What is the relationship of photography to your painting?

SW: Like that of a crutch to an armpit.

SC: How do the non-representational aspects your work related to the representational?

SW: Like an effluvium- one thing is the flower the other is the scent of the flower.

SC: What is the role of symbolism in your work?

SW: This question is like not taking your eyes off the sun while recording what you see in White Out.

I think of Magritte's Ceci n'es pas une pipe. Sometimes paint is acting sculptural and playing itself instead of a trope or a character other times it's a painting of a pig and the pig is really me as a painting of solitary sentient figure. Symbolism plays a backstage role. It lifts or lowers the curtain for the drama to be revealed.

It's not a stagehand or the curtain itself and it certainly isn't a pipe.

SC: Aesthetically, can you speak to the artifactual qualities of your work - those elements that draw attention back to the medium: drip, smudges, tactile dollops?

SW: They call them the plastic arts for a reason. They are man made. The features you mention are for me like the skid marks you see on the road. My work is the stopping short of collision. Like what you said so long ago about the blues the player and the bottle falling off the table...the scumbles and the pentimenti are an xray into body of the process- they show it happening and it's suspended there- it happens every time you look at it.


smear camp
Shelton Walsmith - 2014
digital file, giclee print on canvas


SC: Are you trying to paint religiously or religiously paint?

SW: Yes and hell yes! Without a doubt.

SC: Is there a theological ground for your work?

SW: Yes. Because I was raised in church listening 3 times a week from Adam and Eve to the the parting of the Red Sea to Shadrach Meshach and Abednego to Job and his salty wife to immaculate conception to resurrection to the birth of christendom on down to revelations. Who could forget? Western art history re-indoctrinates and imbeds theology as a kind armature everything else goes on. I don't believe in the big guy in the sky. But as an artist dependent on suspension of disbelief there's no ignoring theology. It's actually quite a helpful bag of tricks,

SC: Is god dead?

SW: I just sent you a postcard with a quote from Tolstoy; paraphrasing- "The evil is not not knowing God but of making a god of lesser things."

Because God is a projection, like the Bat-signal they send up over Gotham when there is trouble, God will always be kept aloft. Unkillable.

SC: Is there any hope for hope? And how do you paint that.

SW: It's all unfathomable hope and irrational faith from where I'm sitting. Use puce.

SC: What role does music play in your work?

Sw: I try to make work the way classical music and jazz function; they are not describing or mimicking sounds in nature (like Flight of The Bumblebee) but rather creating an aural parallel independent of nature.

SC: What is your routine?

SW: Get up earlier than everyone else and read. Put on a classical record ( my current favorite is Haydn) Make breakfast and lunch for Giles and get him off to school. Walk 30 minutes to the studio. Make coffee. Draw until I'm ready to paint then paint until its time to meet Giles at home after school.

SC: How often do you paint?

SW: April through December I paint Monday through Friday from 8-3. January to the end of March I'm lucky if I paint at all.

SC: What is your favorite color?

SW: Merlot red, no, brownish pink, no, daquiri green...

SC: Do you like ponies?

SW: Yes, very much. I asked for one again for xmas this year and, for about the 40th time, nay, it was not to be.


Shelton Walsmith
Photo by John Pack
From Trickhouse #3