(Meanwhile, Meg, being a long distance vision holder of 32M, visits the Columbia Museum of Art in SC to catch the end of an M. C. Escher exhibit…)
I caught wind of a passing opportunity — a door about to close on a chance to see artwork made by otherworldly skill. It was the last day of the M.C. Escher exhibit, so I hopped right in my car and made the trek. I wasn’t sure how I would feel seeing these works, as they had only ever been images of images relayed to me, thrice removed from their origin. But their essence rang through time and space regardless and I knew I would feel something. And I was right.
At first I wondered how everyone around me wasn’t exclaiming out loud at these pieces! Somehow they happened to be right in front of us. Inches from our faces. It felt like it could be a fluke that we were standing there so close to them. Felt like they were artifacts from another planet; treasure from another world. Their forms so unfathomable you could hardly see the line where they went from drawing, born of someone’s hand, to an immaculate and grand image. Something else entirely. A portal. It was one of those days where each moment felt touched, fated. I could feel the presence of these works settling deep inside me somewhere… ancient gears turning, something unlocking in the depths.
“I am myself: a light. In me you find your fate. So be not blind to the truth shining from my glow.” — Candle Flame, from XXIV Emblemata, 1931 woodcut, M.C. Escher
We all have a unique expression… the possibility of this same force to flow through us — the ability to translate from our own inner world to this one. To be a bridge. Some might still be looking for the key, some might have their door flung wide open.
During this summer of beginnings and renovations, I’ve begun a new series called, at this point, “being there” which comes from a scene in a dream. It mirrors the working out of a frustratingly hampered and deeply blocked sense of self— the state of feeling the weight of one’s past and being blindfolded about the future…
Today the East studio has begun to be painted, in preparation for incoming studio occupants in the fall. We are painting out the intense sky blue and toning it neutral with an off-white as suggested by our color expert Meg Graham. This lets the greens outside the window be the dominant color, with the sound of the river beyond the ambient sound.
There are slow forms of destruction that have approached this building: trees too close to the foundation that would in time displace the stone with their roots. And so they must go for now.
My friend Robert Wurzburg stopped by with his chainsaw to give a hand. It’s a reminder that work like this is always a bit of a community effort, that people with other lives and tasks take a moment to lend a hand and their experience. Robert’s an animator and children’s book author. I’ve been lucky to work with him on a wide array of projects over the years and especially lucky that he was able to come handle these too-close-trees.
Another room is now empty and swept. It looks out on the river. The plan is to make it a meditation room and handicap accessible bedroom when needed. Beautiful view out the window.
Look at that old wallpaper. The plan is to document all the old 19th century wallpaper in the building with a swatch book. We may post some of the designs here as they are revealed before removing any.
The building we’re working on to house the 32M Center for Creative Work has been on the banks of the Ashuelot River for a long time. Andrew, an architectural history expert who came to see it during the first weeks I was here, suggested it’s been here since the 1850s. Or at least parts of it.
More recently, the ground floor had been an apartment for an elderly member of the family who owned it. The second and third floors left mostly untouched except as storage. Each of those second floor rooms containing some things abandoned with the building itself.
One of the simple tasks, then, is to clear them out and make room for new creative explorations. First empty, then sweep, then repair and make functional again. It’s going to be a slow process but I’m only one person doing a small amount. Others will take up the broom or chisel or paintbrush and together this will become a new place in an older shell.