This Sunday morning, August 16, marks the height of the Woodstock Festival 40th Anniversary frenzy. My three posts on my 1969 Woodstock experience have pulled in an enormous number of visitors, but I still haven’t tracked down any visual documentation for the paintings I showed there. Several of them still languish unseen in my basement – they’re far too large for any of the walls in my house.
I recently posted my poem about what becomes of unwanted books at a library sale. Today’s poem is about unwanted visual art. In a way, it’s the sister of the other poem. But for the visual artist, the question of what to do with old work is more problematic. Old books and unpublished manuscripts can be stored in a few banker’s boxes at the most, a computer jump drive at the least, so space isn’t a major problem. For works of visual art, it’s another matter entirely.
I wrote this poem after a visit to “The Great Municipal Side Show,” a members’ exhibition at the Albany Center Galleries in the fall of 2005.
ONE RED PUSH PIN
Ninety-nine art works unsold on the walls,
ninety-nine pieces of art.
If one more creation should happen to sell
there’ll be ninety-eight unwanted works on the walls.
One red push pin, one more day
until the show comes down.
This gallery marks the center of a circle,
its radius one hundred miles
in all directions.
Forty artists, one hundred works,
and only one red push pin. The tiny crimson dot
means someone craved the art
enough to sign a check and guarantee a home.
The rest remain bereft,
sad puppies left abandoned at the pound.
But maybe not. The gallery maven claims
two more are sold, so that makes three.
Perhaps they’re out of push pins.
Ninety-seven pieces of art on the wall.
of starving artist soul still hang unclaimed,
or lie supine, or rise on pedestals
above the slate-gray floor of painted plywood,
so like the deck paint on my studio floor
in SoHo lo these many years ago.
So like my loft, so full of painted children,
born of inspiration, left to molder now
in a damp basement ninety miles north
of where the action was.
The paintings in the gallery call in plaintive voices.
Please buy me now!
I need a loving home!
My maker’s out of space!
They stare with liquid eyes
that follow me like Jesus as I pass,
my checkbook firmly zipped away,
its balance earmarked for necessities,
and art’s a luxury, or so I tell myself.
I swear I will not splurge.
My heart bleeds for the artists
who’ll cart their work back home
with no adoptive parents waiting in the wings.
To them, and yes, to me, art’s no mere luxury.
We thirst for it like water, but its power
is in the making, not the having.
When I crave more art, I’ll procreate my own,
and stash them with their siblings
in my dank, dark basement
where water rises from a spring-fed lake.
© Julie Lomoe, 2005
Potential buyers, please note: I took a bit of poetic license here. My paintings aren’t actually moldering in my basement; they’re carefully stored and in good condition, as are the cartons of jazz LPs from the 1950’s I keep vowing to sell on eBay one of these days.
Watch for more poems in future posts. And please stop back tomorrow, when I’ll pose some questions about hosting guests on our blogs.