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30 August 2015

Street Art [living art]

street art.

Let's talk about street art for a hot minute.

[Yes, I need that minute to get my head around the interview with Ayo Okunseinde (; bear with me, I'll make it worth your while.]

In my last post I talked about living art and why I want to focus this year on art made now by living artists around me who are talking about important ideas and experiences. (You can look forward to visual artists and musicians, b-t-dubs.) So, you're going to get some of my stuff and some of theirs: interviews, their work and where you can see their work.

But it may be worthwhile then to remind ourselves why this site is called "themothersnature" (stay with me, we'll get back to street art).
Samba Queen, seen in the Bronx, August 2015
I love this queen. She's black, she's dancing, she's proud. I like it. She's a creator. That's all the mother's nature is: the urge to conceive, create and nurture - art, a new life, a new idea, a new version of self, of the world, of what is possible. 
"Mother" only means anyone who conceives of something new, holds it inside, gives birth to it into the world. We are all that, male and female. We are creations and it is our nature to create.
And creators who give consistently like this- of ourselves to the world, we are tender, sensitive creatures. Our ideas need light and air and hands just as babies do; they need us to touch the possibility of finding their potential. So, I'll be not only the creator but the mother of creators, helping their work find the light on this site. How does that relate to street art? Scroll with me...

ig: vballentine99, landscape on Van Buren @ Throop, BedStuy
This is my son, standing in front of a painting we helped just a teensy, inseey bit to create. The artist called it "familiar-unfamiliar-familiar." When you're in Brooklyn, what you see here is the "unfamiliar." Go see the rest.

ig: notart, seen on Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, August 2015
NotArt makes a lot of "not art." What's he really saying? What was vballentine99 saying when he put up familiar-unfamiliar-familiar? NotArt was not invited, vballentine99 was. One "looks" like art, one does not. One paints itself up as art, the other claims the opposite.

All still art. On our city streets, a donation of consideration, beauty, thought, examination. Why are we here and what do we make of it? 

I'm a writer. Words are virtual. They're not real, they are magic that neither you nor I can control. Smash this machine, burn my books, my work is gone, rising to creator in smoke. But I also claim them. I make them, I put them out, I name them, I determine them. Street art is the opposite.

Someone has to crack me open, come to my page to see my work. You have to choose me. I have to market myself to you, make you choose me, sell myself to you. I have to have a certain hubris to make you believe I'm worth your time and effort, the travel it takes for you to find me.

Street artists, they are the most generous of all. They are the ultimate humble creators. They give their work away to the whole world. They don't try to convince you of their value - they just give their gold away like it was so much sand.
You don't have to go find them; they hand themselves to you like a bowl of grits. They don't advertise - they're just there, all around, a gift to consume as you please, or walk on by like they were invisible and worthless, so much urban flotsam and jetsam.
They don't use their own names. They get no credit. They rarely get paid, and they have no control once they leave that wall, that telephone pole, that gate behind. They pour out their hearts and minds onto this ugly-ass concrete jungle all around us, giving away beauty back to a culture that will raze it to the ground, paint it back to black, sand blast it down to rust in a second.

I've always wondered, as a writer, what it feels like to make a painting- spend hours pouring over it, shaping it, massaging it, knowing when to add another gentle stroke, and when to stand down and let it be as it is- and then, to walk away. Your creation is left behind. And each time you want to see your precious creation, you will have to make a voyage back to that spot out in an endless sea that may pull you away in another of life's currents.
As a mother, I find out what that feels like just a teensy-inseey bit every day that I let my son go - to school, to his dad, away for a week. 

That, peeps, is the mother's nature: create something so beautiful, so perfect, giving all of yourself to its creation, and then - letting it go out into the world.

That's why street artists are the queens among the mothers.

16 August 2015

Living Art

A year ago I rebirthed my blog as a way to share art and ideas and poetry. The work is meditations on art, and on life.
After sharing new work, works in progress and the work of artists that move me, I find myself thinking in new terms. Maria Lassnig, Lee Friedlander, Romare Bearden, Kehinde Whiley, Robert Davidson. They’re all good, powerful artists whose work is worth seeing, thinking about, meditating on.

But just as I am a member of a new generation, sharing my point of view on the works that strike me, I am asking what my generation of artists wants to say. What do we think? What do we feel? What is important to us? How do we see that is different from the way generations before us saw?

And why art?

Visual art is communal and it is immediate. We enter galleries and museums and walk down our city streets and art comes at us, lays itself on, enters us. We are submerged in art’s wake. It washes over us, like it or not. And we have reactions – thoughts, feelings, memories, places, spaces, words come up in us to meet what we see.

When I walk into a museum I am flooded. This is what I want. I want an immediate experience of something more than my self, a new creation coming from a creator and made from this life, this world, this earth, this experience. I want to see how someone else sees, experience what they experience. I want to be brought into a new point of view of this world, and in so doing have a new experience of myself. That’s what happens when I look at art.

And I can do that with you. I can see art with my sister, my son, my brother, my friends. And we can experience it all together. We can talk about it, we can muse over it, what it means to you, what it means to me.

Part of what I love about visual art is that because it is visual it is both communal and immediate. What this means is that we can talk about us now.


"nada dura para siempre" (nothing endures forever)
Who are we now? Where have we been? Where are we going? When we see art together we are in it together, just as we are in this life, this world together now. So, it’s time to start talking about what we are talking about now. What we as humanity, as individuals see, what we do, what we make, what we are living.

There's living art and then there's living art. Any art that is still viewed has a life. But art that is made now, among us, that is living art.

It’s time to listen to my generation.We’re getting older and we're hitting our stride. It’s time to bring us up into the light. That is what you can expect in the new year of this space.

All visual works:
Faile  (a life)
August 2015

02 August 2015

Literal Silhouette 
Chris Ofili, 2015 @ New Museum

Wise women made of reeds
Rushing into water well above their knees.

Women carrying children, carrying incense, carrying
Scent of themselves,
And the men in their sacks.

Women, lionesses all, who work those bales
Like thread, in and out of economies of loss.
Locusts collecting where their hair begins
Hovering for the color, sweat and scent
of women.

Woman, do you know your worth?
Are you handed a crown, or did you twist it at the shores
From your magic?
From lotus flower petals and cattails and your own crazy…
From all those tears you dropped
the river flooded
the heart paused, stopped with blood.

What was he to you,
Cat’s toy, or true love?
The sphinx rose at dawn, and lay low under the sun,
Waiting for him to slip by. She set her net
And caught him…
Lines dropped from the clouds.

Like fish they slipped through the water blind to all
But movement.
Put yourself there, and watch
The current steal your silver catch.

What was he to you, but a moment you looked
Finally into the water.
No Narcissus are you, rather wakened from blindness
To see the sun…

Hovering always, a halo of black and dark and twisted
And shining in that sun,
Yellow as white, as a night that prays for morning light,
Falling and laying and lying, and flying
Twisted as man and woman, and night
Laying down finally
Where arms are there, and softness is there,

And she can breathe.