Thursday, October 17, 2013

Where you find it

While walking at night I've noticed this bus stop advertisement twice.  Both times I saw it indistinctly from some distance.

Each time I thought to myself "that reminds me of a Mark Rothko painting."  Here's a real Rothko for comparison.

Alas, when I got close enough to distinguish the details I was disappointed to discover that I was not looking at excellent modern art.  Or even a knock-off modern art.  Instead I was looking at a picture of a newfangled tablet computer.  And not just any computer, but one sold by Microsoft, a company I've resolved never to patronize ever again.  (I'll spare you the rant.)

My point is that for a few moments, before I learned the truth, I enjoyed thoughts about the art of Mark Rothko.  Walking down the street I took pleasure in the memory of Rothko's works.  I've found his work meaningful since I first encountered it in the 70s.  I offer thanks to the advertising executives of the Microsoft Corporation for triggering these positive experiences in my mind right there on a Pasadena street.  I'm sure that's what they had in mind all along.

My point here is that the experience of art is where you find it.   It could happen any old place.

One thing I saw online recently was Seat Assignment, a series of pictures by artist Nina Katchadourian.  Apparently she was bored on a long airplane flight and began excusing herself to the toilet to take selfies with her cellphone in the style of old Flemish portraits using items from the plane as costume materials.  For example:

Here's an actual 15th-century painting for comparison:

Katchadourian has taken my Rothko experience up a step.  She imitated an ancient artistic portrait style using materials that existed where she happened to be at that moment, in a bathroom 5 miles high.

Occasionally I pick up random pieces of paper on my walks. Often it turns out to be just trash (which, in a small gesture of civic-mindedness, I carry to a proper receptacle.)  Being near a high school I find a lot of discarded school work this way.

One day I noticed a folded piece of paper which I assumed was going to be more high school homework.  I was surprised to find a printed poem on it.

   Gloves Off

Today I will have salsa
      and wear loud socks.
My tie will clash, a bit,
      with my shirt,
and the watch I choose
      will be seven minutes slow.

One of my pencils
      will be shorter than the others.
I will say "Hello"
      in a louder tone of voice,
read the second section
      of the newspaper first,

and, tonight, approach you
      from the other side,
do that
      before this,

for today
      I have finally discovered
how the mime
      gets out
                  of that box.

Pretty obviously not high school level work.  A surprisingly good poem for a piece of trash.  It seems to be in the voice of a young man making his first very very tentative forays into non-conformity.  Maybe not so young, since the third paragraph reveals him speaking to a significant other and suggests that their lovemaking has been very repetitive.  There was no author mentioned or copyright asserted.  No Google hits.

Later I figured out the source of this poem.

I remembered that several blocks away, on a fence in front of a house, is a small box offering free poetry.  I checked the current offering.  I found the identical page, albeit uncrumpled, with the identical poem.

Is Good For You

Fresh Every Friday.

I'm not too happy with being told that poetry is good for me.  That's a bit too preachy for my tastes.  (I'll spare you the rant.)  What I do like is living in a neighborhood where any little piece of paper I find on the ground might turn out to be a thought-provoking work of art.

Noticing "art" in unexpected places happens to me quite a lot.  I'll often stop to take a picture of whatever catches my eye, often because it reminds me of painting.  I post these shots on my photo blog Mixed Messages.

Rothko paintings have come up in this Mixed Meters post: Cool and Warm, Dylan and Waldo at SFMOMA  (the Rothko is in an animated GIF)

An imitation Rothko came up in this post: The New Yorker and the Hero Composer in Los Angeles (there's also an imitation Jackson Pollock)

MM post: The Plastic Bag as Hat - another modern take on medieval portraiture.

Found objects come up a lot on Mixed Meters - you will see many glove pictures.

Here are some posts which feature found pieces of paper:
Found Cartoon - It Looks at the Atom
Found Cartoon - Fink
Found Cartoon - She's Not a Christian
Old Medical Catalog Scrap
30 Second Spots - A Newspaper in Traffic

Click any picture in this post for an enlargement.

1 comment :

Jeff Laity said...

I'm on my way to NYC in a few hours. I hope I see a Banksy. But I suspect they're in dark alleys mostly, so I probably won't be searching those at night.