Daily Archives: May 29, 2014

Timeout for Art: Subverting the Calendar

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The grid and themes involving the calendar work well together.

Whether monthly, weekly or even moon-phase, the calendar brings time into order.

I use the calendar to bring order to my life: there is the daily “to-do” list; appointments and obligations; lists of short-term and long-term goals; books I’ve read; books I want to read; birthdays and special days; meal plans; Christmas gift list…and on and on.

It’s all mostly make-believe.

I can’t really “order” time.

Sometimes things happen that make that crystal clear.

Three years ago, when my mother received her diagnosis – terminal pancreatic cancer – time took on a whole other dimension.

There was the time I had wasted, when I could have been listening better, loving more, extending more kindness and genuine gratitude.

There was the time we had left…not enough, by a mile, but more precious for its scarcity.

There was the time we would never have.

Always, there was the clock, ticking down.

In the middle of all that, my little sister Sheila died in her sleep, without warning.

Awful.

And yet, there we were, my brothers and sisters, together in the house we had all grown up in, together mourning our sister and helping our Mom to her good passing. There were children and grandchildren, assorted nieces and nephews and friends from far away. We were linked by our family ties, our history, our love and our loss.

It wasn’t all bad.

If I were to consider the traditional calendar, I would have to say it was a very dark time.

That, however, would be denying the joy, the sharing, the moments of honest hilarity that also filled that time.

That is why, in this series, I started subverting the calendar. It seemed too much, to look at a whole day, too painful, sometimes to deal with even an hour. I fractured the calendar so that each moment could be considered, for the feelings that came with it.

The first paintings in this series dealt specifically with two weeks: the time period from my sister’s death, the next ten days with my mother until her death, and then the days of arrangements and final good-byes. The paintings were mostly black and white: old drawings cut up and collaged onto large panels. There were elements of texture, though, and pops of unexpected color. Paint was added last: thin, dark washes were allowed to drip over the fractured grid, linking one element to another. Completed last Spring, they are some of my strongest work.

I’m revisiting the idea, with a brighter outlook this year.

It’s still a good idea: the moments are what count, in a whole life, and moments don’t fit a set pattern.

These images are details of the large (32″ x 48″) panel I’m working on. It still has quite a way to go, but I like some of the things that are happening.

Title: “Spring Marches In”

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