Friday, March 25, 2011

Paint Splatters and Artists' Books and High-Stepping Deer

I had changed a painting -- one that was finished, I thought, about a year ago -- because it didn't seem to me to be working anymore. I changed it until it was unrecognizable, almost back to the wood, virtually blank. I painted and scraped and -- my favorite -- dripped and threw red and blue paint.  Since the original painting had disappeared, I figured that I was absolutely free. Fun! (yeah, and a little scary!)

We went to an exhibition in downtown San Rafael called "The Art of the Book" at the Donna Seager Gallery. (Fourth Street, where the gallery is, has lots of interesting coffee shops, artsy stores, galleries and restaurants, and it was really fun to walk around and see everyone walking, talking, blowing bubbles... the city sponsors an art walk every second Friday of the month). The gallery show was filled with handmade and altered books -- with a really broadly-defined idea of what a book might be. There were books softened into shapes like stones, set in a bowl. There was a boxed book/puzzle/philosophical board game by the precise and inventive book artist Julie Chen. There were two accordion books, unfolded and hanging down the wall, so that they fell into a kind of vertical scroll, with Japanese characters and photographs and fabric-wrapped covers, by Howard Munson (who had also bound a book by another artist ... a self-portrait-as-cyclist... in the show).  The creativity and sheer determination (how long did that one take? how did she do that? how did he think of that?) were really inspiring. We decided that one visit wouldn't be enough; we will have to make sure we get back again (the show is there until April 30).

The thrown paint and the book-art have something in common: pattern and repetition.  The paint must be thrown in a repeated arc, so that a pattern of ribbons and dots forms. The departures from the pattern then seem to add movement:

And the artist books play with ideas of pattern and repetition, too. Here is the postcard from the gallery, with a picture of a terrific work by Daniel Essig called "Totem":

His pages pull around in the motion of a circle -- with no obvious beginning or end -- the pattern of the stitched pages forming an unfamiliar kind of binding, and yet they spring from the top of what looks like a traditional leather-bound book. The artists in this show defy expectations...

As did our resident deer, who are so interested in the fallen camellia petals that they climbed our stairs, tonight, slipping, in the rain, in an effort to find every single fallen flower:

A new pattern! We will see if they come back....

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