I am very happy today. I woke up this morning from a dream in which I was auctioning off toast for charity.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what would be my dream job if this book-writing thing is over for me, and I think Charitable Toast Auctioneer just might be it. Thank You, Universe!
And Thank You, July/August issue of the magazine of The American Horticultural Society for your nice words for Gardens of Awe and Folly:
Linda Larson, the Traveling Gardener, wrote that review — Thank you, Linda! — and she called some of the illustrations in the book collages. I think she means the multiple-exposure kinds of things I do . . .
Or maybe she knows my secret about the rescues I perform:
But as for actual collages, I have a story for you today:
I’m the kind of person who has always had hobbies. The hobbies change — from making things, to sewing things, to collecting things, to collecting different things, to painting things, on and on — but whilst I’m in the throes of a passionate new interest I go all out. (That is one reason why it pains me to not have any hot hobby/obsessive avocation/calling at this moment in my life, not counting the exciting new career option of selling crisp warm breadstuffs on behalf of widows and orphans.)
Once upon a time, about 20 years ago, I suddenly became preoccupied with collage.
Is this too cute or what: I began my collage-making hobby by making Triscuit-sized collages! This one (below) I called, Inspiration:
I was going through my Dada phase when I called this one, The Angel of Death Says, That’s All, Folks:
I eventually embiggened my vision to post card-sized assemblages:
Yeah, that one (above) is called Gulf, Sea, Ocean.
And then I began to make 3-D collages, which I mounted inside of 8″ x 10 ” shadow boxes. This one is called Electron Ascending a Staircase:
Quoting William Butler Yeats, I named this one The Pilgrim Soul:
This is a crap photograph of how I made a sunken doorway there of the far right side of the Pilgrim Soul piece:
Heading back to the William Butler Yeats well again, I quote from his poem Towards Break of Day: Nothing That We Love Overmuch Is Ponderable To Our Touch:
I hope you can grok the 3-D-ness:
Hey! I just realized! William Butler Yeats has solved the age-old problem: is it “toward” or “towards”? It’s towards!
This next piece got its title from some bit of popular science I was reading at the time — it’s called If The Atom Were a Cathedral (note use of the subjunctive tense — very classy):
I was very meticulous in the papering of this “cathedral”:
As it happened during this year of collage-thinking, I came across an item in a local newspaper that in upstate New York State there was such a thing as the annual Schoharie County Small Works of Art juried show, held in August. It was open to works of art in any medium, but the catch was that it could not exceed 18 inches in height or width. Perfect!
I submitted some slides of my collages and one piece was accepted, a flat, postcard-sized piece that I called Let’s Distinguish Paradox From Contradiction:
Out of 589 entries from 22 states, only 50 pieces were accepted. Since this is the only “competitive” juried show I have ever entered, I really don’t know if these stats make acceptance to the Schoharie County Small Works of Art juried show a Yale or a New Haven Community College kind of thing. But there you are.
I didn’t win anything. So I quit fine art.
But I’m still very fond of these little works on paper — through several epic purges of clutter and bad ideas and outgrown identities, I have held on to my little mementos of Self, c. 1996.
I have read that having a hobby is not popular these days (people are too busy, and on-line too much), but I don’t understand how people can get through life without one. Hobbies are about being a doer, a thinker, a creator. A Hobby (in the most catholic sense of the term) is a framework of being, a scaffold that supports a particularly clarifying and comforting theory of how the world works. To collect (watches, 1980s punk records, camembert labels, etc.), makes the universe a more linear and comprehensible place to be. To make (birdhouses, pies, ships in a bottle, books), life is about constructing useful or playful objects out of the void. Hobbies give you something to think about instead of death. Hobbies make people happy, or at least less lonely in the great void.
When I was making my collages, I felt very engaged with the Universe. As a Capricorn, I tend to prefer hobbies that require tangibility, so making collages was vastly more therapeutic than, say, praying; or meditating, which are pastimes that are far too abstract for me.
Because so few people have hobbies these days, I think that’s why coloring books for adults are so popular: they give people who only consume their entertainment on TV or the internet something to do.
Thoughts, my Dear Readers?
On a completely unrelated note: It’s August! My favorite month of the year! And I need a vacation! So I will be taking the next two weeks off from blogging. I’ll be saty-cationing and hunting for feather treasures etc. and reading and responding to your wonderful Comments, but I won’t be posting anything until Sept. 2.
Keep collecting Blue Jay feathers! Keep watching sun sets! Keep the champagne flowing! Keep toasting yourself!
And meet me here in 2 weeks when I tell you all about my latest wanderings, findings, and paintings.