Last week, Oola and I mounted a show of my artist books in the Robert Graves Gallery at Wenatchee Valley College in Wenatchee, Washington. Oola has weak arms but an indomitable spirit. We survived the adventure thanks to all the help we got.
I made a new book called “Conversation with Stones” for this exhibition. It grew out of my admiration for the shapes and colors of river stones I have found in abundance in my new place on the planet, and from the thoughts that occurred to me about them.
I made the drawings of the dancers digitally and printed them on transparent film. The “stones” are of handmade paper, shamelessly painted to refer to the mystical qualities I find in them. The words and phrases from the stones are gathered up into a poem which is posted on the back wall of the installation and near the end of this post.
A small fan to the side of the installation gently moves the pages and gives an animated quality to the hand.
Still Life: Ocean With Rock
you are both the memory of a brook and
a message from the stellar stream.
the life of mountains,
firm, solid air,
you are resistant to authorization.
as unquestionable as wild apples,
as verifiable as the mocking bird,
as indisputable as the moon,
you are undeniably obscure.
You are a history of torrents substantiated by passion,
you are the intent of small nows.
I am heavily seeking your eyes in my dreams.
Demanding as an obduration of lilies,
Formidable and tough as portending high noon.
You are a condensation of lizards, grim swallows,
and difficulties of praise.
You are the tough austerity of stubborn distance.
the solidified lives of dragonflies,
a density of stars,
compressed stirrings of fury.
you are heavily verified
a painfully proven gnasher of ships.
You are adamantine laughter,
the strong, stony scent of earth
and the unyielding hooves of dreams.
inflexible dust and impenetrable musings.
You are thunder from the sierra,
the clatter of the daily grind and the hiss of gradual loss.
Joy … and pain,
you are the waterfall and the river bed,
and the record of a marriage.
You need not speak of past difficulties. They are written on you.
You are worn out, rounded energy,
You are the crusher of ecclesiastics
and the one who grinds away the fiction of time.
the sermon of abrasion,
the exhaustion of permissions,
and the diminishment of uniforms.
You are all that is durable of dreams.
Your language is long and slow. It takes two rocks and a river to say “clack”.
Your language is communal and patient. It takes many rocks and an ocean to say “clatter…hiss”.
I am an impediment to your sequel.
You have journeyed from the center of the earth.
YOU are between the rock and the hard place.
You say to me,
“I used to be a boulder but now I am a color singing in the river.”
“I am the survivor stone,
You say, “The rock that was rejected by the builder has become the cornerstone.”
You sing how
you once destroyed a monster with a loaf of your bread,
and how you fed a village with a bowl of your soup.
You teach me how to prop open a door.
Heavily verified and
you are a labor of leavening and profoundly wild.
You are the history of friction,
a cascade of attrition,
an abrasion of assurities.
You are the dwindling of certitudes,
the decrease of truisms.
You are the geography of erosion.
You grind down the hard nut.
Wear it down.
Wear it away.
You weather the choices.
You are a distillation of lessons
and a tutor to endurance.
You are the bones of the ridge.
Music of the commune, you are the cloister stone – river stones and water.
You are a lessening of mountains,
the moments and the ruins of a search.
You cause the loss of rough edges.
“Noli te bastardes carborundorum” say the young. “It has happened” say the rest.
There are two old stones in the shallows. Together they watch over the new generation of salmon.
Return to the universe.
Some of the other works in the exhibition:
The show will be up through Oct. 30. If you are in the area, you are welcome to visit.
Robert Graves Gallery
Wenatchee Valley College
1300 5th Street (The gallery is more easily reached from the 9th St. entrance to the college.)
Mon – Fri: 11am to 3pm
Sat – Sun: Closed
Or by appointment
509-470-7844 or 509-633-1001