Monday, August 15, 2016


At the Studio School there
were daily drawing classes.
Ten or fifteen students, with
big drawing sheets and flip-
top drawing pads on easels,
with charcoal sticks, mostly.
One, sometimes two, models
up front, on a stage/pedestal
area, naked, just staring out
in some vacant pose, gazing.
(I don't think they used 'naked',
it was more like a genteel 'nude').
Various configurations of limbs
or contortions or not, for the
day. There were people, and
other students sometimes,
who hired themselves out
for this. Not self-conscious,
relaxed with their bodies,
and not much caring either,
I guess, with who saw what
and who thought what either.
It was never 'erotic,' though
it had its moments. Your
'attention ' was supposed
to be elsewhere; like, on
your work. None of this
was 'mandatory' per se,
nothing much there was,
but it was kind of needed
in order to facilitate a
relationship and a working
familiarity with your
instructor, and with the
others too. The idea was
that you'd be 'interested'
enough in working through
all facets of your 'art' for
personal development
and just genuine interest
too. So, yes, I sometimes
did it, though I never
enjoyed it. I certainly
never liked drawing
with charcoal  -  imprecise,
smudgy, unable to be
strong, with little 'line'
presence. And it always
ended up just seeming to
be an otherwise pretty vapid,
'academic' art exercise. No
one wants blotchy charcoal
drawings of some babe's
thighs and butt. Or do they?
Mostly I drew in the presence
of Charles Cajori, Esteban
Vicente, or Mercedes Matter.
It was OK, they spoke well,
on matters of art and all. I
never really spoke much with
Mercedes Matter on this, but
I did make my feelings known
with the two others. They
each had cool accents too. I
would conceptualize my ideas
about 'line-precision', strength,
direction, and all that, and try
to explain my dislike of
charcoal and why. These two
fellows would nod and say
things back, but I don't think
they ever really understood.
Their sort of approach was
traditional, academic and
artful representation of things.
Mine was never that. It was
a worlds-apart deal. Sometimes,
too, in their critiquing and all,
I thought they were just speaking
for the sake of saying something  - 
because they had to, to get paid. 
They were, after all, the chosen
'instructors' in this set-up,
but sometimes I really felt it just 
didn't work, more just talk for
the sake of traditional 'art
education and awareness. What
much can you say about a
charcoal drawing anyway?
For me, visual representation
pretty much began and ended
with Paul Cezanne. It was all
there, he'd done it, and who
else needed to? Past him, or
after him, 'Art' became a
different thing altogether. He
ended on a really high note -
the visual representation of a
psychological state , which
state was to be the future of
Mankind, and he knew it, or
his spirit sensed it. Some
things just always are,
'larger' than the individual
carrying forth the message.
He was that message carrier,
in this case. After him, Art
became psychological and
represented, for all, an entire
and other state of mind and
being. Traditionalists and
all those academics still
chasing light and perspective,
realism, portrayal, they were
all chasing the chimera
of a past. An old stew
which had lost its savor.
You could go up to the
Metropolitan Museum
and spend hours walking
through all that crud;
endless and correctly
colored scenes and
portraits of a past. The 
Furnishings of an old era.
Like all that ancient armor.
The dead were present. All
that stuff carried its own
prideful self-consciousness
like baggage. Animals,
hunts, sitting rooms,
majesty, endless religious
motifs, saints, sinners,
knights, queens, nudes,
soldiers, babies, castles,
drawing rooms, foundries.
Things no one did or had
anymore. Just every so
often there'd be something
maybe that stood out  -
for its daring, for its
different viewpoint.
That was modernity
seeping through. A sense
of excitement amidst all
that otherwise boring
dullness. It was quiet. 
Everything was separate 
and alone. No one really
thought about much  -
mannered ways of living
and thinking. Cezanne
broke apart space,
fragmented life,
tortured objects, and
brought us to today. Yes.
That should have ended it.
The leftovers, all these
grand and big palace hall
paintings I just spoke of,
they were just chattel,
things people owned to
show wealth; or to bid on
and buy from others.
Meaningless non-art,
Possessions. Commodities.
I wanted none of that,
and really didn't much
care how a buttock or
a face was portrayed.
Life was not like that
anymore  -  all things 
crashed into each other, 
meshed and mangled, 
overlapped and twisted.
Colors had qualities, but
they were no longer simply 
about 'color' itself. Their
was more a power in 
the source of things, 
which modern man, and 
certainly modern art, 
had somehow ferreted 
out. Whether by accident, 
by atomic power, or by a 
mass-breakdown of the
societal fabric, I wouldn't
know. If you view late 
Cezanne, any one of them, 
you can see it. The fracturing, 
the breaking apart, the 
dissolution of Reality.
Those smudgy, charcoal drawing
sessions just were never doing it
for me. I'd go upstairs once
more, back to my own studio
space, and begin work again, my
way, on my own. In the manner I
wanted. My content and form,
they were all to be incendiarily
different. I was on my own.

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