Category Archives: Beauty and the Beast

DECEMBER 30, 2015

Bare Bones

When it comes right down to it we can only work with what we connect with on any given day. It depends on where we were, what our appetite for seeing was, what the coincidences of the day threw across our path, or finally, what we were alive to at any one moment.

I drove to the local health food store to get a few things for the upcoming New Year’s Eve dinner we were making to celebrate the end of 2013. I had spent a good part of the day inside preparing and doing other year end tasks, and so went to the bio, as they call it in France, late in the day, and as I pulled into the parking slot I saw this gnarly, furry, wild haired, winter naked bush, brittle in the last tincture of rosy light, sitting on a brutal pile of rocks behind a scrabbly chicken wire fence. All in all a tough image, one that might seldom hold my attention, and yet…

As I sat there for a moment thoughts of Dubuffet and Art Brut came to mind, and Philip Guston too, one of my favorite painters who never flinched at hard, ugly realities, and found ways to address them in his paintings, ways that challenged the values of the art world at that time. And so the longer I stayed in that moment’s reverie with this scrawny, bristling and blighted image, the more I realized that it was the most exciting thing I had see all day, and in fact was beautiful in its own demanding and difficult way.

I welcomed it.

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MAY 4, 2015

Beauty and the Beast

I had gone into town to meet someone, and on the way in I was stunned once again by the simple beauty visible almost anywhere in this remarkable valley. A roadside with an old olive tree and a new field of poppies, and in the distance a line of cypresses. Like a haiku poem unfolding in 3 lines and 2 frames.

05-4 L pano1028585In town, the fable of the ‘beauty and the beast,’ played itself out in 2 strokes. As I walked to my meeting with the ‘beauty,’ I saw the old man below plodding heavily along, andI  felt the pull of gravity on his whole being. Not that he is the beast but the space around him was weighted with his effort, and some ineffable sadness. The beast I saw was one who worked hard all his life and, ilke many country people here, are bent from a lifetime of labor.

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