Monciel

by Jacek Gulla

MONCIEL
By Jacek Gulla 

About me it’s enough if you know
that I dabble in arts and run
a small appointment gallery in SoHo.
A hint for insiders. I serve
Chateau d’Avignion at receptions.
At nine-fifty per bottle, I spend more
on these two crowded hours monthly
than I did on my recent expedition
to Poland.

————Of all the places in the world,
why would anyone want to go there, you may ask?
You are right if you guess our singing
Mad Poet Pole fits the missing link.
Don’t laugh me off. The guy wears
his nuts and bubbles like a hat,
but under his cranium no mean mind
goes about the business of thinking.
Anyway, indeed he was the inspiration
for that trip of mine.

———–I don’t remember
whose show opened that night
back in October. But I cannot,
and will not forget one curious story
our Polish Nut Singer managed
to convey to me in short intervals
on his countless returns
to the wine table.
———–“What would you say, sir,”
he begun “if I introduced to you
work of a fellow named Monciel?”
———–“Is he French?” I sort of smiled,
wary of unknown geniuses.
———–“I see you get my drift”
cryptically observed our Pole.
———–Only then did it occur to me to translate
this strange name to English.
———–“Mon ciel… My sky?” I chanced.
———–“My heaven” corrected me my guest.
———–“But you see” he continued
“the guy is in fact my compatriot
and in Polish his name
means nothing, but nothing at all.
Kind of an uncaught, half-formed
clay of sound,
suggestive of an illiterate peasant,
a village idiot, if you prefer.
The thing is, the fellow
claimed he was God the Almighty incarnate himself,
if one should see his obscure work a legitimate claim.”
———–“He painted?”
———–“No. He drew. In pencil, on small
scraps of paper. Are you interested?
Well. I can, if you wish, bring one drawing of his here,
for your examination…”

Ambivalent about this kind of offerings,
I nodded, eye-brow high, well, why not,
and that’s, you see, how my Polish adventure
took off.
———–And now as far as I can see
it doesn’t have an end in sight.
The drawing has arrived on my desk
inside a large manila envelope.
A piece of paper barely five
by seven inches in dimensions.
But when I held it in my hands,
when for the first time
I zoomed in on its bottomless content,
a most puzzling sensation seized me.
This paper lives. Something
like an immaterial substance of a gaze
breaths in between my fingers.

Imagine faces of all the existing
banknotes printed one on one on one
on a single leaf of paper.
That’s how closely metaphors come
to express what it is like
to stare at and touch a Monciel’s drawing.
Add to it all the celestial light
caught in the miniscule net
of pencil lines –
a sort of fear-of-height seizure
over the microscope lens –
and still the drawing remains
superior to all our praises.
At a closer inspection one delights
in the serene diligence
of Monciel’s luminous pencil.
Gradually, the first, groping reading
disintegrates into a myriad eyes.
What appeared to be a shape
of a hand, of a head, of a tree,
now discloses slowly its measureless depth,
all eyes, countless, wide-open, translucent,
irises and globes and eyelids,
and added to the feeling that the paper
actually breaths in your hold
is the sense of being looked at,
the sense of being seen through and trough,
the sense of being utterly dispensable
with your tawdry secrets.

———–The Mad Poet glowed.
With one finger on his lips,
he motioned me to look
at the drawing’s reverse.
———–“See?…”
It consisted of a splash of the same
intricate design, plus several
lines written obviously
in Monciel’s native tongue.
“From the beginning to the end of Time,
I am your God the Father.
All shall perish. But my words
remain.”
The characters were drawn with care.
Evidently the man thought
many times over as to what
to write, before he set out
to delineate this statement.
There was no haste about it,
not a note of boasting,
not a pause of doubt.

———–“Of course, Monciel
didn’t mean this to pass
for his personal signature” I asserted
“He no more than perhaps
regarded himself a tool, a mouthpiece
of the Divine Providence,
as was the case with,
let’s say…”
———–“On the contrary” the Poet
would not listen,
“From what I could gather,
he worried openly
that He Is Who He Is, at least
for as long as he cared to talk at all.”
“You say, “He worried.” Why?
What was there for Monciel to worry about
if he believed firmly his claim?”
———–“The particulars
about being God
aren’t necessarily heavens.”
———–“How am I exactly…”
———–“Well. Records show,
the last seven years or so
of his life, Monciel spent
in various mental institutions.
———–primo)
because he ceased to function,
could not even wipe himself off
and had to be cared for
around the clock,
with the exclusion of the hours
which he devoted
to sharpeners and pencils
———–and secundo)
because a number
of prominent psychiatrists found
his case relevant, significant
to the science, the science that,
as one doctor was to put it later on,
gropes blinder about us humans
than do Monciel’s eyes.”

———–“Taken care of!
Rather than incarcerated!
What a stinking joke!”
The Poet Pole produced
a slim professional handbook
and in the text pointed out a passage
where the author classifies
Monciel’s drawings
as a product of mentally ill schizophrenic.
———–“Ill! As opposed to mentally
healthy schizophrenics!”
The poses our Poet Pole can strike!
Antique marbles in short eye-blink successions.
Presently, he was weeping tears of Niobe.
———–“Back in the Sixties, and
Monciel passed away in Sixty Four,
the state propaganda machine
jumped to any and every opportunity
to bury true art
to bury true artists
as criminally insane
a danger to the well being
of the peasant-proletarian Socialist nation…
Surely, it’s much easier
to turn the key on the puzzle
than to face it.
———–For the thrill alone..,
To look into hospital archives…
See his files, check sheets…
To read the opinions of the learned body…
Rescue God…”

I hardly am inclined to sudden
fascinations. But granted a margin
of tolerance, I envisioned Poland
as a business trip,
possibly even a tax write-off.
Certainly, the drawings’ odd artistry
merited decisive steps.
No doubt, we’ll hear about countless
other divine incarnations
in due time, just as today we witness
the siege in Waco, Texas.
But it’s dubious if ever again we face
anything comparable with the breathing,
observant eyes of Monciel’s art.
Above all, it seemed quite likely
that I should return from Poland
with a whole stack of these illuminated papers,
though, considering
how time-consuming must have been
their execution, the draughtsman
must have necessarily left
rather scarce an output.
A measure of vanity tipped the scales.
Monciel won’t make me a Vollard
or Kurtweiller,
but with a touch of luck,
plus a length of legwork, perhaps
my effort could earn me a mention
in the XX-th Century volume
of the History of Art?

Outside the field of art,
perhaps only the documents,
documents concerning exceptional
phenomena in the flux of the human epic,
offer similar satisfaction
as the explorers of the Olde reaped
when they glanced on unknown shores,
upon inexplicable ruins. Today
the Earth holds precious few secrets
in the way of isles or straits, if any.
So our attention, our insatiable curiosity,
turns to other, often elusive pastures.

I landed in Warsaw, Poland,
on November the 3rd. There, without delay,
I boarded train bound
for the royal, medieval capital of that country,
Cracow. The Poet didn’t exaggerate.
God seemed inevitable, at home there
as Mickey Mouse is
in Disneyland. Doubtless, my exploits
were to touch upon ancient paradigms.
I mean the mental bones of existence.
Imagine a town consisting
of windows and confessionals alone.
Huge, solemn windows
shedding golden luminescence
on the dim, desolate night.
Then the archaic, baroque boxes
made of dark, lip-polished oak-wood.
Into them passing ages shed sad skins of guilt,
truth contained otherwise only
inside the commas in the History Book
in that silent soil of Glory and Fame.

———–Dear me!
All I needed was to find
Monciel’s confessor. Fortunately,
our Poet Pole from SoHo,
you know who I mean,
our crowd-crazed obnoxious flirt
Caruso, equipped me well
with several contacts in his native town.
One attorney among them.
In his possession, he promised,
I find plentiful examples of Monciel’s ouvre.
as well as all the available information.

The question that weighted most on me?
Whether or not Monciel was aware
how immense a meaning
bore his name in French.
If it wasn’t actually one smart
nom de plume,
a subtle proof, a sly backdrop,
to support his claim to divinity.
Monciel’s roots, family life,
place and date of birth
could not be verified and vary
from source to source.
The reason being, the guy himself
gave a great many conflicting informations
on the issue, as he extrapolated
for the hospital staff
on the concept of a
multiple birth gift.

The amicable lawyer warned me.
The hospital records
should not, can not be trusted at face value.
Late Fifties and early Sixties
amount to one thick hoax
as far as sincerity of professional research
is concerned. Files were written
on the folk with one aim in mind
———––forced hospitalization.
A practice with roots in both,
ideological warfare
and psychiatry’s grave shortage
of souls. To research
and try experimental cures
without least of remorse. Free,
free to care not for inevitable errors and wreckage.
You know. Competition. Like, in any other
field of our hasty progress.

By no means blame Communism alone.
See this long, unmarked mound?
The attorney gathered breath. We rambled
through the vast, unkept gardens
on the hospital grounds,
out there to find clues to the mystery
of the long-deceased Monciel.

———–“Tons of bones under this weedy green.”
My guide, if he could he would hover.
“Just imagine them
the madhouse patients that the Nazis have done away with
back in the 40ties, when they moved in their wounded.
Consider proximity of Aushwitz.
Consider occupation, peace time afterwards,
how drab efficiency ruled both.
And the landscape assembled
allows for unspeakable contortions.
Globus Histericus in History’s throat
the size of our planet.”

———–My eloquent guide asked
if I wished to go any further on
down this path. A client of his had a sister,
and she, it turned out, worked as a nurse
in the institution. She promised
a lot, but in the end
was sorry she could do no more
then this:
———–a)
———–to smuggle me in
for a brief inspection
to the cellars in the wing 5 C. Down
to where Monciel
during prescribed therapy sessions
toiled for several months
straightening small bent nails. Literally.
Sounds simple, easy,
until you try it yourself. Fingers sweat
and their hold on the nail
can’t withstand the blow of the hammer.
Apparently meant as an exercise
in discipline, this bloody,
cruel, unprofitable bent-nail operation
could have had one and only one goal.
To hurt Monsiel’s fingers, to maim
their fabulous lightness,
to wreck their divine, inconviening romance
with pencils.
———–and b)
———–the nurse promised
to put me in touch
with one hospital cook.
He remembers Monciel
from his stay in 5C
back in the Sixty Two.

———–“How can I forget a chap
who tears huge wept into the soup
when he couldn’t find salt?”
The cook chuckled
when I felt for stories.
“So, how else could you have dealt
with him? Being damned dumb
about the simplest task
in the daily upkeep,
the guy resorted to tall excuses.
Divinity! Tales of omnipresence…
Docs thought bent nails
could perhaps alert him to a humbler,
manageable predicament.
Had they known any better method,
they would be only glad, only glad,
to apply it to his trouble.”

———–“Are you telling me,
he was spared the rave of the day,
electric shocks?”
———–“I am a cook, sir,
what cooks, I dish out.
Monciel volunteered. Helped daily
bring dinner to 5C from the central kitchen.
One thing’s clear. Ailments didn’t
craze him to the bone. Noticing me,
that he wasn’t alone in there,
at once he stopped sobbing
and shied away from the boiling
contents of the aluminium cistern.”

The boiling contents of the aluminium cistern!
And his tears in it! Tears
of a lunatic
who imbued ordinary paper
with the gifts of seeing
in such a manner as should have
awed any medic out of
any macabre routines for good.
Why didn’t they simply declare
the person of Monciel
a manifestation of enigmae mundi,
as inscrutable as a snow fall is
with its innumerable variations
on the snowflake design?

———–“They sort of did”
the lawyer seconded my logic
when he drove me back to Cracow.
“The University intervened. Somehow
its clinic won the care of Monciel.
But to the deep distress of the science
the files, with them
the academic investigation
into this remarkable case, got washed
ink-blue during the water-cannon siege
of the clinic by the arm
of the Law and Order back in March ’68.
You in the US had your bloody Kent College.
The French had their stormy May. We,
we here, our March to Freedom…”

———–My initial idea,
to locate and interview Monciel’s confessor,
didn’t generate much go. A priest,
by the name Golab, Polish
for a dove, from St. Nicolaus’ parish,
has indeed been present
at Monciel’s dead bed.
But being well in years himself,
he took secret of the confession,
if one did occur, with him
into “our sacred soil,” following
shortly the notorious patient.
My source, a suspicious woman,
and touchy to the point of hysteria
on the issue of professional
responsibility, first have had me
admit that shortcomings in psychiatry
know no national boundaries,
before she showed me a photograph
that she took while studying
at the said clinic. She explained
the man in bed was our Monciel.
Beside the bed stood the priest Golob. Next
To him the dean of the department,
One doctor Kempinski, an author
viewing the cause of schizophrenia
in the light of the biblical reference
to the angels who do not sow…
———–“What do we, all of us,
crave more than compassion, I wonder”
she asked, then went on to explain
in her dry, precise English,
“I say, a desperate individual
may choose to suffer as though on purpose,
more then any actual illness would call for,
just to exercise in us, the medical staff,
what he or she deems should be our basic trait.”
———–“You don’t want to tell us
the God our Father would feign illness” I protested,
“just to have a provincial MD
try to comprehend or ameliorate his fatum!
I mean, given the testimony
of his drawings, Monciel meant
what he said about himself
and represented himself accordingly.
Just look. He drew with a naked eye,
often, I am told, into the dim hours
of the night. But we,
who wish to traverse the strata
of his lines, could use a microscope
on them, and still a veil or two,
veils woven of vivid, translucent eyes,
would remain hanging there,
staring us in the face
from beyond our deep-most focus…”

My insistence on acknowledging Monciel
on his own terms
disarmed the defensive woman.
I didn’t have to resort to the good old ways
of bribery when I suggested it would be nice
to have a word with some other patients
who could remember our man.
She agreed to determine
from the clinic’s register
how to go about locating them
and in the stretch of a single day
delivered two addresses.

Of course, I had to depend
on the translating skills
of my Polish lawyer guide guy.
Our first venture yielded just one
but significant detail.
Unlike any other patient
inside the 5C wing, Monciel
could not learn, or didn’t bother to,
how to defend – hahaha! – defend
his few soup potatoes against theft.
Any one, whoever managed to do it first,
Bruises, Robinson Cruzoe or Bicycle the Dog,
kept pocketing them
without much ado on the victim’s part.
Robinson the Scratched Ceiling, that is.
Bicycle the Dog, the teeth
that chewed on the heels of the nurse.

The second venture took us out of Cracow,
to a small mining town of Wieliczka.
It added little of consequence
to my portrait of God. Well. We ended up
facing a mute cow of a vegetable.
In the course of the afternoon
she brought herself to produce for our inspection
a tiny transparent plexi box.
It contained a large, curled, yellowish toe-nail.
The nail served her as a kind of
answer-all-the-questions reply
while we prodded the woman
for memories of our divine patient.
Once and once again she shook the toe-nail out
and with it kept scratching at random
surfaces of furniture and objects about herself.
Did she intend to tell us
that our inquiries could but scratch barely
the surface of the subject matter?
My guide and translator
was inclined to interpret the toe-nail
along the less philosophical lines.
———–“With it the woman”
he offered “tries to tell us how to move.
Walk as gingerly as possible.”

The fact is, the medieval salt-mines
way down beneath the town’s foundations
gave way, collapsed recently, with water
pouring in five gallons a second,
raising fears of the impending
destruction of the whole world-famous,
Unesco’s O class complex of Wieliczka.
On the way to our toe-nail host
we had to negotiate our passage
through several check points
and emergency cordons of uniformed troopers,
and their high Slavic cheek bones
kept turning after us with utmost caution
while we headed on
towards the epicenter of disaster.

Before we rush on to the next chapter
in this taxing account,
I need to linger with you awhile
on the insulting attitude
with which the matron, the one
with the snap-shot of the bed-ridden,
death-bound Monciel,
received me and my questions.
Like she took for granted that I am
just another opportunist hack
out to blame of her country, system
or peoples, one more an innocent victim.

A certain retired professor, one
monsieur A., a painter of considerable
renown, received me in his atelier
in similar fashion, though
not so much with suspicion
as with an unscrupulous contempt.
I was after Monciel, after his drawings
and his divinity, with a profane
capitalist objective in mind. Out for
nicely documented tragedies
like the preservative industry needs
rubber. To market dubious,
marginal freak-shows rather than the true,
difficult, responsible achievements!
Dear me! The pedagogue threw his arms out
towards his studio walls and froze.
A pathetic attempt,
to stir me up on the account of his own
urgent story, the enigma of his own person.
The walls stood barren, dusty grey.
But from the wear and tear of the plaster,
I could phantom many
a miscarried masterpiece of art
must have had hung on them in the past.
———–“Monciel! Hugh… To start with!”
professor A. went for a second push
“His true name spells Monsiel.
Monsiel, sir. And that does not,
does not translate to anything
in the least metaphysical or French.
Pardon moi. It just doesn’t.
And as far as his so called art goes?
Bene. If he knew what he was doing,
he would grow, develop, move forward,
face challenge, or stop altogether.
I mean, stop repeating himself
Like a stuck automaton!”
———–The pedagogue
took his wire glasses off
stared at them long with tired eyes
then shook his head yes
yes towards a Plato’s Republic
her perfection in no need of art and artists,
taking bitter pride, in front of his American visitor,
a pride in how the studio walls around us stood stark empty.
———–“The more eyes he,
he penciled into his phantasmagorias,
the blinder he grew to the world at large.
Pity. Because a truly significant art
urges, foments the opposite.
Faithful to its mission, art actually
endangers its own survival, yes sir,
as it attunes our perceptions
to the beauty inherent naturally all around us,
be it in this broom here, in a sea shell,
be it in the clouds’ black shadows, spots
on the grazing longhorns…
And so on and so forth… Until art itself
becomes unnecessary, expedient…”

I didn’t allow myself to be swayed
by this suicidal wisdom. Nothing,
no argument could rob me of my pride.
If it took God one week to create the Universe.
In turn,
it takes us, humans, eternity to learn a thing
or two
about Him. Come Sunday,
I was on the plane again,
on my way back to the dear US and business,
infinitely richer for two more Monciels
in my portfolio. A needless enterprise,
once again to say how it feels
when I hold that paper in my hands.
I need not open my eyes,
to feel the drawing’s stare and depth.
Rank them equal with the cave frescoes
of Lascaux. Equal with da Vinci’s Flood series,
now in the Windsor Castle.
The unfaltering humility of his pencil
could not shame God our Father, no,
even if everything else about Monciel
counted for madness or fraud.

———–About me,
it’s enough if you know
I dabble in arts and run a small
appointment gallery in SoHo. At receptions
I serve Chateau d’Avignion. Myself,
I sip a rarity, Lacrima di Cristi, from Naples.
One doesn’t need to be a licensed paranoiac
to see that our media make waves
about trifles. As if on purpose. Wet dreams
one ugly Amy dreams in jail cell
steal the TV time away
from the on-going internal deluge
in the salt-mine of Wieliczka, for one.
And instead of the unprecedented effort
at rescuing wooden mastodons
of technology, and their solvent,
glittering environs, from the clutches
of treacherous water, we are fed
Amy’s dental or vaginal disclosures.
Besides Wieliczka, what other, unheard of
events rig the planet, while the news
anchor our curiocity in the tripe soup
some jerk next door threw up
getting stabbed in the eye by his mom?

Something glorious, and morbid in turns,
weaves in the loom of the rain, unattended.

Consider any TV set. It doesn’t cease
to amaze, to humble imagination.
How an electric current translates,
how a wire blooms, into a picture, and sounds!
A vehicle, an event
easy superior in substance
to the news it dishes out. Isn’t it in fact
underestimated, Cinderella kind
of overlooked,
while we watch on it things
we would never choose even to steal a glimpse of,
come near to, if we had the choice.
Low life on the 72” high resolution screen,
in a penthouse suit!

Professor Grafton Lothe Earnst needs only
to lift his bushy eyebrows a wrinkle over his spectacles
and his point is made. Invent light!
Then find out you are better off in darkness.
Sure, you can smash the bulbs
but what about the profound disappointment?

———–“I, for one” he may go on to say,
“rid the TV set, which I own, of the encasement.
And ever since watch it bare,
the screen facing the wall,
the way the mirrors were turned to the wall
while mourning a royal in the Escorial.
The intricate, sublime process
within the web of wires holds for me
a riddle so lively, so rewarding,
my dear old chum parrot
gets hysterical like a jealous lass.
Shrieks, tears at the cage-bars
Long after I wrap the cage bind with towels.”

Professor Grafton Lothe Earnst conveys
through every fold and nuance
of his lavish outfit and manner an air
of regret. Time and tools and thought
should have had been put to a worthier task.
This to learn profits one but a little,
and bitterly late.
———–Wherever he goes,
a chair’s put out for him to ease into.
Not that his age deserves a throne,
for he is far from being the oldest
among our art connoisseurs in SoHo.
The chairs appear to materialize as a
sort of gratitude or something,
as if all the galleries he visits
owed him, at their discretion.
The question isn’t if they do indeed,
but what and how much. Not quite in terms
of money, let me add. The professor
eludes the IRS type of classification.
Appearing neither wealthy nor poor,
he is a neither/nor incarnate, in tune
with one’s fancy. Hard evidence on him
proves little. Collecting contemporary art
sure belongs with the past-times
of the classier have’s, since the price
and merits of the collectibles
roll on a myriad zeros. But, then,
our professor belongs to that privileged
a class, who invest one penny on a dollar
and hardly ever lose. He invests
in the art he calls Unknowns.
In short, the artists, who some day he may
choose to introduce
to the rest of the world, and gain
what all of us are after.
Glory, riches, immortality, gratitude…
Artists like Francine Staples, like Froelegh, Spinnes…
Professor hoards – hardly a word, given
how few things
he elects to preserve for posterity –
whatever his intuitions afford. What remains
of the given oeuvre, gets trashed away.
Let’s say, some up-start Picasso
crashes bohemian scene
with a splash of promise. By the time drugs or AIDS
or cucarachas are through with the guy,
two or three specimen of his or her style
land themselves in the professor’s pad,
between the stripped TV set
and the caged, jealous bird.
The Great Unknowns! The Scorned,
the Mute Ones. Mute
in the way of cans emptied
of white gesso.

Good ideas need a caring touch,
to take shape. A loose
hand-rail here, a gram of heroine
over there perhaps, an unsavory neighbor
plus a few well placed stings,
like “you know what I mean,”
like “sorry,” when what is needed
is a bed and breakfast,
and lo, and behold! Mean means,
to assist recognition of the History’s
Would Be’s – a theme fit for elegies! For essays!
One needs, merely, to remember the succession
of chateaus Picasso filled up to the roofs
with his greatness, to wonder how happens
that nearly twenty years after his death
they fail to inspire enough curiosity
to investigate their precious contents,
and there you go!
The attraction that any overlooked or ignored
or cast out hope stirs up, appears
of infinitely a finer cloth.
———–What might
have been belongs neither to the future
nor to the past. It hangs on the present
like an immaterial pocket, a pocket
full, heavy with regrets.
Regrets store the toys of age.
The unfinished, the broken off,
mourn ad infinitum their lost,
no longer obtainable fullness.
And there we come.

April drags its feet in SoHo. The ’92-93
exhibition season resembles an actor out
for his last curtain call, procrastinating,
inviting concluding applause.
The animus of the closing hooplas?
This season our well heeled public
responded best to fear.
Two shows come to mind, both a thrill
From the same gallery, Gagosian’s.
Gagged Ossian, as our Poet Pole
prenounces. Both cast in awesome dread,
their common denominator.
Our Earth, today and forever, is the true
and the only face of the mythological terror, Medusa.
The man responsible for this weighty, suspended
revelation, wrote his name into fame
with acts of pain, torture and risk,
which he performs on his own person
for about twenty years now,
twenty years of the Art News,
Art Forum and Art in America.
Working on the raw
meat of emotions, Chris Burden
shuddered at last and delivered
a five ton tangle of miniature rail ways!
The fear the other show induced
hit me with immediacy of disaster on the go.
One sorry accident years earlier on
Lingers about every single exhibition
Richard Sierra has had ever since.
“Art Maimes Workers” run the then headline
in the Post.
With this recent show he seemed
at last to play with virtuosity
on this crippling notion.
Two enormous arching walls of two
or three inches thick iron
stood tilted overhead.
Tilted on a point so fine
a feather-breath seemingly would be
a force enough
to tip them off balance.
The sense of risk grew denser
once one entered the graceful in-way,
just as it grows every time a space ship
takes off for the sky.
———–The dread
of things to come would prove
insufferable, without small distractions.
Just the other day, a letter
Francine Staples wrote Lothe Earnst
fell into my hands.
Of all things under the sky! She had guts
to ask the professor to lend her his jealous parrot!
Promising a sketch of it in return for the favor.
And why not! An artful maneuver on her part ,
to find out how really precious are for the elderly wizard
her crayon orgasms. Fruitlessly
expiring! Queens your one
spacious grave yard!

———–Idle patience
sustains suspense on the stage.
Perhaps.
Certainly it won’t pay Con Ed for the light
lavished on the white, expectant walls.
Galleries do business. Deliver. Or fold.
Before one resorts to marketing
his vacant space as a trend,
one better tries
other creative approaches, to furnish history
with defendable milestones.
Tomorrow’s Art in the Make! In the Mask!
In the Martell! A while-you-wait
Kind of abbberrrration…

Art-life allows itself needlessly
to depend on whimsical fortune
in matters of efficiency or progress.
Counting of ten thousands Ruises
painting today in NYC
won’t necessarily amount to a one who deserves
a name change. But
a year or so worth of the art chat
in the Times’ alone surely provides ground
sufficient to figure out how
should, will or won’t behave
the up till now unpredictable inspiration.

Be kind of a mid-wife to the anyway
inevitable turn of the loom.
Cross Hokusai with a Rick Proll for instance.
I don’t need to stare Medusa in the face
nor to tip-toe between tilting irons.
We are there. En masse.
If the White Male Western Art sprung forth
from the Lascaux caves, with deer and bison
all running away for cover,
the History of Art, long channeled
by historians into one mighty
stream of logical developments,
by now has reached the plateau
where histories of distant origins clash
and for one enormous, shallow,
bubbling puddle of mud,
the cultural marshes, the clay, where to look
for discarded toys, for drowned trinkets.

The tide of garbage, the refuse mounting
right outside the store, drains out the lure
from the produce on sale.
Imperatives of the market require a face-lift
on the image of the produce itself, right?

The Eighteen Century French painter,
Chardin, comes in handy. His pensive,
quiet soliloquies of still lives offer a clue,
how to restore dignity to objects of no use,
to things broken, forgotten, spent.
Already I sort of sounded out this one
on one Stu Sty. And he?
———–“Still lives?” he complains.
“They aren’t damn it my kind of a drink.”
But since no one has been doing them
In any relevant manner
For good many art history chapters, he agrees,
Stu Sty does,
To give the idea a try for at least two seasons.
This summer he’ll join us in West Hampton.

I know, and am sorry, really.
He hopes I’ll let him in on Monciel
After I see him Greek against the Ocean
Or something.
———–But I? Sorry, I eye someone else for this,
shall we say, a gamble…

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