mad in pursuit journal


Life Equals Art

HermanitaLast night we watched "How To Draw A Bunny" (2002), a documentary on the life of artist Ray Johnson. He was an accomplished collage artist, a character in New York art circles, but essentially unknown and uncelebrated in his lifetime. Watching the movie reminded me that, in the final analysis, our best work of art is our own lives.

Figuratively, of course that's true. When we're old we want to look back on the beauty, adventure and drama of our lives -- polished up with a little selective memory and personal mythmaking.

But sometimes it's literally true. Lillian Hellman became more famous writing up her well-polished memoirs than she did producing her plays. Pasted in my notebook is a clipping about Nan Goldin, a photographer who has spent a lifetime turning family photographs (and wretched family history) into shows.

And there are days in the midst of quiet stretches when I figure this web site will be the most complex and profound work of art in my portfolio. Not that it's complex and profound on any given day -- like a collagist I keep working over the same simple elements.

kitchen wallWhile cruising Home Depot the other day, I picked up some plate hangers. Yesterday Jim and I hung some rare old Chinese plates and a couple other items in the kitchen behind Hermanita's bird cage (an improvement over their sitting on the living room floor). I started thinking that our house is less about social or functional decorating than it is about creating a collage for us to live in. All the collectibles in every nook and cranny are certainly Jim's life-collage. I'm making my contribution as the restless rearranger.




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