The art of surprise is highly under-rated…and the gift of wonder, even more so. The reason I love Artists and Art so much, is precisely because of the these two gifts: Wonder, and Surprise! Like little windows, beckoning.
Yesterday, I brought my kids to our local library here in Eagle Rock to get a few new books for the week. It’s a sweet library, filled with high school students hanging out after school, people using the computers, small kids and mothers reading books surrounded by an audience of stuffed animals pulled from the shelves…in other words, a gathered smattering of our ‘hood.
For no particular reason, I asked the Librarian if they had any Susan Sontag books in stock, and she pointed me in the right direction. I haven’t read Sontag since grad school, and I was slightly curious myself, what made me ask after her. I hadn’t thought of reading her prior to stepping into the library…she hadn’t been on my mind at all. At any rate, 2 of Sontag’s books were on the shelf and I picked one out – which happened to be a novel (surprise for me, I’d only been aware of her non-fiction work) and I flipped open to the first page. I don’t even recall the title of the book, but I read the first few sentences and then did a simple shuffle through the pages, and wallah! I discovered something wonderful. Something of Wonder, and of delightful Surprise. A memory Lost.
The “Home Depot” image at the top of the page was tucked inside the Sontag book – it is by an artist named Allison Alford, and on the back side is a series of connected triangles that correspond with the downtown Los Angeles Library, where she has placed other “Lost Memories” inside other books. Beautiful. (She mentions that there are also Lost Memories placed inside ebay books if you search for her seller name…which I’m not sure I have the right to give out. This is her Performance Art piece, if you will, and I am simply a part of her audience). At any rate, this afternoon I will take my kids downtown and see if we can find other Lost Memories…or place some new ones ourselves. Art is contagious that way…it beckons us to join in, to be a part of the creation, a part of the journey through magic and wonderment and expression.
What do you do to embrace the wonder of creativity and tap into the stream? “Masterpieces” are NOT required…as a matter of fact, I encourage you to NOT create a masterpiece…to not even try! Art is a shared venture between maker and viewer – it is created again and again and again with each new set of eyes that encounter the creation, and everyone has their own idea of what Masterpiece even means. Masterpiece, in my view, is aligned far too closely to Perfection, and Perfect does not exist…it’s bullshit. As Salvador Dali said: “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” Art is about play, exploration, expression, giving form to the unformed, bumping up against the ephemeral… It’s about engaging with your own creative force and expressing how you move through this world: what you see, think, feel, ponder…it’s about beauty and joy and conversation and communion. It’s about touching a stranger, and a lover and a friend. It’s about nothing at all, and everything under the sun. It IS. That is art. It exists. And that in itself, is profound.
This morning I was lucky enough to spend some time with a beautiful community of women artists at Occidental College, a gathering put together by my dear friend Jocelyn Pedersen – a Professor/Artist/Book Maker of rich talent and extraordinary knowledge. We were there to witness and honor one of her graduating students, Hannah Rindlaub, and her thesis show in the Weingart Building on campus. Hannah is a collector of detritus, and turning this “rubbish” into art. Her show was beautiful and rich and expansive in its meaning/allowance/mutability. The highlight for me was the Mandala she created out of detritus collected and gathered along beaches, shorelines, walks through her neighborhood…alongside the book that she printed with images and text that give insight to her musings and how she explores her world. Please do click on the link above to explore Hannah’s work and expression. It is a wonderful journey indeed.
Sometimes I think art has to do with being at the right place at the right time…bumping into the right people at the right time…flipping open a book to the right place at the right time…or the right detritus at the right time:) Happy accidents? …or guided by the mysteries to land where you are in need of landing? Like flipping through a Sontag novel in your neighborhood library:).
This morning, as we were talking with artist/Professor Linda Lyke – who also works at Occidental College – I mentioned my finding this “Lost Memory” at the library and explained how I came upon it, and that is was the work of artist Allison Alford… and what do you know? Allison Alford was one of Linda Lyke’s students at Occidental College! Happy Accident, or Grand Design, or a little of both, or none at all…? I can’t say. All I know is I’m so glad that it exists…whatever this “it” is. Our world contains barrels of magic all around us, waiting to be discovered…and the older I get, the more and more I believe that we are granted moments of entry into this grand design, moments that are meant for us, for whatever reason, for us to do something with. A gift. What we do with it…that is up to us. I feel I was meant to find this treasure – this Lost Memory that Allison Alford left behind in 2014, inside Sontag’s book and to share this encounter with family and friends…and to do something with it! Even if I don’t yet know what that is:)