Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!

et laissez la folie nerveuse commencer …

This is a new challenge – to have to select vendors, get prices for a check to buy materials, even before I have a clear idea of what I want to do ……..

It is quite a challenge to go out buying stuff when you don’t know what you really plan to do, and then taking it back, and then submitting for final reimbursement after the work is finalized.

This project I essentially have to buy before I’ve even had a chance to design …..Add to this the fact I have to submit info next Monday to have check by Friday to buy stuff to begin work December 20.

This is near craziness … and the brain=spinning began in earnest last night.

Ay caramba! to change up the vernacular …

It seems practical to make project more scalable, to be approached in stages. If I can figure out the base and get the big piece constructed …. then I can figure out how to finish the piece in January and get more checks then.

Whew – this is not a particularly hard or unfamiliar job – it is just the time-space constraints that are so challenging. What is really missing is the added “brain burst” from all that collaborative wrangling I experienced in our Art Book groups. As messy as that type of work can be, I am realizing how much the combined mindpower of a group can be much more than the simple sum of the whole when properly harnessed. I have even toyed with the idea of calling up Julie Radke, Steph B-P, and the others just to get their spin …. sounds like a plan.
I need a LOT of ideas in about 48 hours …….

Lucky for me once again the spontenaity of doodling on paper has saved my butt in one sense. I am thinking of making Mask Books for the mobile pieces. These are stationary partially open books with the covers in mask themes, and shapes related to traditional Commedia characters, and the “inside” is to teach the folks who come to the Mardi Gras about these characters. I could calligraph the condensed version of my character summaries on one “page” , find a good illustration like Picasso’s Harlequin, for another page, use huge text for titles in one Flyleaf, and am toying with a “mirror” like effect for the remaining page, so someone would be looking into an illustration of the costume and see their face inside.

[insert sketch idea here]

[think think – jigsaw luan or other stiff material, paint, laminate, ……. it might be do-able]

I like the book idea because it is a theatrical form of teaching that the idea could be reinstalled without the big mask in other contexts – like my field project report for example. It also could be used in future in teaching kids. Or I could develop a paper product …… or redo the mask-books in a better form after Feb. 5 Mardi Gras.

Harlequin and Columbine

Harlequin and Columbine are probably two of the most familiar characters of the Commedia Dell’Arte. Certainly to those raised in the classical ballet and all holiday theater-goers, they are characters of Drosselmeyer’s toys that magically come to life at the Christmas Eve party at Grandma’s house. The characters are in I Pagliacci, the opera, and numerous novels and plays.

Italian name for Harlequin was Arlecchino, and he was the sidekick servant of Pantalone, the merchant. However, as the role of the sidekick is often more playful than the “straight man”, just like in TV sitcoms, the range of possiblilites for Arlecchino/Harlequin was nearly endless. He is the trickster. He is always agile, and moves through scenes as gymnastically as possible. I think of Seinfeld’s Kramer as the Harlequin of that ensemble. His costume was always motley, and over time evolved to the signature diamond multicolor patterns of red, blue,and green surrounded by gold braid trim. Often in his tradiational cosutme, he wears the jester’s hat with the many horns and bells.

Columbine is the servant of the Inamorata, sometimes called Isabella. She is in love with Arlecchino. She is the only female zanni, or clown, in the traditional Commedia Dell’Arte. She sings and dances, and generally tries to keep him from getting into trouble by following his misheivious nature. In the English Pantomime, all of the male characters are enamoured of her, as she is the epitome of feminine grace and beauty.
Chocolate Wrappers with Commedia Dell'Arte Characters

During the time of King James I the Commedia Dell’Arte came to the England, although some sources place the first performance at court in the time of Charles I. However, unlike the Italian troupes with there plethora of characters, the English variation developed into the grand tradition of pantomime, with Harlequin (Arlechinno) being the clown “prince” of the troupe. In the English incarnation, he is more than the clowning servant, he is imbued with magical qualities, being able to change shape as well as perform sleight-of-hand. His traditional black mask became a signal – when up he is able to be seen, when down he is invisible. The scenes of comic sketches in the English pantomime tradition bear his name: “Harlequinades”

Antique French Jumping Jacks
Dover Publications
ISBN: 0486237125

Harlequin and Columbine by Booth Tarkington
A short novel about the production of a play where the lives of the actors mirror the script and sometimes insisting that the script mirror life, and the vanities of actors in the dramatic process. Read it online at the Gutenburg project:

Harlequin and Columbine (Voulez-vous triompher des Belles?)
Jean-Antoine Watteau
Circa 1717 Oak Panel

Harlequin Valentine – a comic Book
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: John Bolton
Publisher: Titan Books (ISBN 1-84023-411-3)

Wondering How to Find the Beef in Reading

From Poetry
Five Points
“Since the publication of its inaugural issue in 1996, Five Points has become one of this country’s best literary magazines. Published three times a year by Georgia State University’s Department of English and Creative Writing Program, each issue features poetry, fiction, essays, and interviews with the most compelling writers working today. Five Points is named after an area of downtown Atlanta where cattle paths once converged at the site of an artesian well. As editors, the name offers us a metaphor for our goal of presenting a convergence of ideas and genres, photograph and text, north and south, east and west, young and old.”

Poem Hunter

Poem Online – Bringing Poets Together

It Is Because I Cannot Forget This:

“When you have seen the radiance of eternity . . . when you follow your bliss, and by bliss I mean that deep sense of being in it and doing what the push is out of your own existence . . . doors will open where you would not have thought there were going to be doors.”—Joseph Campbell

and heretofore how so very very far from this I had been living for so long.

Finally a Crumb, A Glimmer, and a Sigh of Happiness

I am finally in a condition to write about what is going on. I came back from Montana, seeking:

Seeking my artistic compatriots, seeking expressive opportunities, seeking a field project, seeking myself. I wrote in my third (of at least five) re-draft of my field project proposal I am:

Desperately Seeking the Unbearable Rightness of Being

What I have been unable to do – and perhaps never again (damn it) – is to just activate the “project machine” and design, plan, procure, execute a project plan UNLESS …. I can identify a meaningful reason for doing so. I have discovered that my father raised me to be a very good soldier – one who when necessity requires, will up and get the job done. My profession has trained me to be a very good designer, but by its nature I have been designing for other people’s lives. I could think of many significant, meaningful, creative, challenging, and truly valuable activities for a field project but I couldn’t answer the question: Why should I do this project? Why should I do it now?

When I returned, I had no idea of where the opportunities in my life exist. I was just going to knock on every door until something developed. I discovered that the local art museum was re-inventing their community education program, so with Tana Steiner’s help I developed overnight proposal for doing a prototype project for what eventually I want someone to pay me to do with K-5 children. The education director was interested, but the timing was a little off for getting the project off the ground by February. A small detail, but I can’t submit a field project report in June if it doesn’t begin until September. I have been studying myths and myth making in earnest, as these were crucial elements in my original proposal. However, I was finding difficulty in connecting any if it back to myself, and unless I could do so, I couldn’t move forward. I have been going out and hanging out in all kinds of artistic venues, and mystically enough the one that has evolved to be the most meaninful is that I joined a drum circle. How odd it is that immediately upon my return from my apprenticeship in African drumming, a drum circle formed at the local cafe. Over the first month things have been a little unpredictable, but there bonds are forming between a group of “regulars”. Not one of us considers ourselves a musician, in fact most of us are primarily involved in the visual arts. October’s project musings started to think I might want to use my drum circle as some sort of focus for my field project. Then the Polly, the cafe’s owner, a staunch supporter of the arts, but a businesswoman nonetheless, had to tell us she wasn’t going to stay open late on Monday anymore as our drum circle had failed to generate the business that her other efforts on other nights had. As of this writing we are homeless, and in hiatus. Poof.

What I have discovered about myself that in truth, I am an underground artistic outsider who looks askance at the “art establishment” and cannot be motivated to work just to have “a show”. In fact, I much prefer creating accidental art without permission. I have more in common with the buskers of the world than those who are longstanding Equity members. Egad. What I realized is that I am probably one of those truly odd performance artists. I was watching the film “I Shot Andy Warhol”, the biopic of Valerie Solanas, and realized how normal to me the scene at The Factory seemed. Oops. I am one good soldier who has really NEEDED to go AWOL for a long time, and just didn’t know it. Sorry Dad.

Then along came a semi-commission for a piece of sculpture. It isn’t the best kind of commission where I actually would end up with income I would have to declare to the IRS. However, it is the nearly next best kind -an opportunity to work big, and have someone else pick up the tab for materials. Our college scholarship fundraiser this year is changing from the ubiquitous but sparsely attended golf tournament, to a Mardi Gras evening. They want some kind of eyecandy visual element when folks walk into our entry pavilion and they are willing to give me access to the building during the holidays to make it. So I started musing on how to possibly incorporate this unexpected event into my Desperate Search for the Unbearable Rightness of Being and my field project requirement for the creative pulse.


How do I know that this time is the right time? Because even though I cannot properly verbalise it, I feel that I am finally synchronous with my rightness of being – that working on this project at this time is what I SHOULD be doing. What seemed to coalesce out of many disparate strands is a theme related to improvisational art – whether physical or performance. I want to focus my exploration process on the Commedia Dell’Arte – the first improv theater – and use its characters as themes in my sculpture for the Mardi Gras. And then I am thinking to continue this into working on performance – to develop my truly own performance art eventually – but to begin at the beginning with the Commedia Dell’Arte tradition as a base. ( Yes – you can see I was a classically trained performer at one time – even when I want to step off the edge, I want to return to the historical roots for my “training”) What could be more perfect – movement, song, percussion, costume, history, humor, irreverence, improvisational?

It is ME.

I have ordered (yesterday) The Love of Three Oranges and several pounds of other books on the Commedia Dell’Arte and amazingly enough, instead of writing a monologue performance, as discussed way so long ago in front of the Montana Theatre, I really want to develop a premise for the traditional Commedia characters but set in somewhat contemporary times – specifically around my favorite era for pop music, performance and costume: ca 1964 – and draft all of the Creative Pulse faculty to perform it first with me, in true Commedia style – knowing your character, knowing the premise, but doing it improv. I, of course, will play the Inamorata, but with quite a twist on the usual vapid Barbie-esque vessel of beauty . She is living on the cusp of feminine revolution, after all. I will be sure to pack my silicone boobs this time.

And will there be PINK? Perhaps.

Post-Election Musings

This was written on the day following the general election on November 2, 2004. I had intended to post it here, but the vagarities of email technology lost my copy of the original draft. Fortunately none of my relatives ever “trim” their reply messages and most of the original text is quoted.
Ergo – thanks to my sister – I did not lose my modest essay.

In pondering the election results and listening to all that surround me I come to the inescapable conclusion:

This wasn’t an election between parties or between candidates. It really was a referendum on world views. Like so many have commented in the emails you have so kindly included me the cc list, the appeal of George W Bush (Jr) is that he embodies and affirms to those who wish to cling to the idea that the United States is a country apart, one whose destiny and prosperity can be defined separate from the remainder of the world community. Kerry was the candidate of choice for anyone, regardless of other political bent, who sees the United States as being inextricably intertwined with the destiny and prosperity of the world community.

The Bush appeal is, for one who struggles to reconcile the cognitive dissonance created by the post-9-11 world, that he offers all the old
rhetoric of an earlier age of “making the world safe for democracy”, and that what we have always done will still work. Therefore, no change in world view is needed, no adjustment in thinking about current times is required, no
anxiety need be expended on difficult and complex world issues. In listening to many different kinds of Bush supporters talk about the
election results, it is not so specifically a religious fundamentalism, but a fundamentalism of desiring easily compartimentalized answers to life.

In my circle of friends and family, I know only kind, tolerant, and caring people. However, they all were scared to death of Kerry as president. It was due to the success of the
Bush campaign to activate their underlying anxiety of change, and promise to the the paternalistic type leader who will take care of
it all for you. I also believe, that his candidacy was a success with otherwise rational and
tolerant people, is that like Ronald Reagan, he offers a “rose-glasses” view of America in the world that requires no adjustment in ones’ deep view of life.

It is whether or not one is able to make the courageous leap to the 21st century and abandon the premises of what used guaranteed
safety and security, or the illusion of it, in the 20th century. That entire period of history in
world affairs is the collisions of the “America as a world apart” view with the realities of the
ever shrinking boundaries of a world centered, versus nation-centered society. For both World Wars, our country adhered first to our idea that we were so separate from the world community elsewhere, that their conflicts were not necessarily our conflict. In 1940 it was entirely practicable for the United States to survive and thrive without becoming actively engaged in
stopping either Japanese Imperial expansionism in Asia or Nazism in Europe.

Long before 9-11-2001, that reality had evaporated in any practicable economic or political sense. The great irony is that the act of destruction of the Trade Towers is the
event that marks the inextricable inclusion of the United States in the world community while our overall political reaction has been, it seems to deny this reality by clinging even stronger to an outdated world view. I was entirely motivated in working in the election, not
because I was excited at all by Kerry as a candidate or any of his platform. It was for me that the only justification of surviving 9-11 is to pursue a national policy at home and abroad that would ensure no other families would have
to endure what I have these last three years. I lost friends, and one of my immediate family
was one of tens of thousands “near victims”, although not in the Towers that day, should have been, and have been living lives seriously affected by that knowledge. My near and dear not yet anywhere near back to normal yet.

However, it is seems irrefutable to me that continuation of the Bush policy is a guarantee that my family is only one of the first in many more to come. But this realization was only possible if I accept the idea that the US is
now inextricably part of the world community – and acceptance of a cause- effect relationship of what we do in Iraq and elsewhere.

I do not agree with the idea that all who came out to support Bush in droves are bigoted narrow-minded people. I think the vast majority are scared people who don’t want to give up the idea that America is somehow separate from the rest of the world. It is the simple halcyon late 19th century view –
that foreign policy does not really come back and haunt you in your own backyard, and your President can send the Marines from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, and neither the level of complexity of your daily life, nor your peaceful sense of self will be challenged.

And it is the oddity of cognitive dissonance that some will choose to resolve it by believing an untruth in the premise of their life rather than accept that change is necessary, or than accept that one of their fundamental beliefs requires modification.


My husband is right that the level of cognitive dissonance is so high concerning issues of
terrorism, national security and Iraq that ultimately we could have conflict
on our own soil, increasing disaster abroad, and many would refuse to consider any error in the premise that got us there in the first place. Cognitive dissonance often behaves only to increase the emotional attachment to maintaining the untruth.

This may sound like I am very depressed at the moment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For some reason, although experiencing a certain level of dejection and despair, my reflection on my activities engaged in true grassroots politics affirms that I am a center of a
power of one. I may not be able to articulate, or even identify, how to apply my power of one in the realities of the post-2004 election world.

However, I am deeply affirmed
and energized by this knowledge. I discovered the power of a gentle disarming manner and a star-spangled Beanie Buddy teddy bear yesterday. Folks would open the door who might not have otherwise. Once the door was
open they could discover my true intention – and listen.

Yours in working for world peace –

ps the irony is not lost on me that the level of
considerate thought required in even penning this message is far greater than most want to apply to living, and as Will Shakespeare said” And therin lies the rub”