Contained

A random group of images from a trip to New York comes together under the rubric “Contained,” then inspires a poem.

 

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Containing, contained:

  1. What’s left of a perfect espresso macchiato and eggplant pastry at La Colombe, 601 W. 27th St., NY, NY.
  2. A freestanding window frame contains the view at Queens Botanical Gardens, 43-50 Main Street in Flushing, NY.
  3. Packing crates for sculpture on the second floor of the Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Rd., Queens, NY.
  4. Basket made by Pomo Indians (?) in what is now California, photographed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY.
  5. Looking up into a sculpture by Ruth Asawa at the David Zwirner Gallery, 525 W. 19th St., NY, NY.  Asawa (1926 – 2013) learned to draw while interred in camps in California & Arkansas during WW II.  Later, she studied with Josef Albers at Black Mountain College.
  6. Stacked trash cans at Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.
  7. Moving sculpture (probably the work of Deborah Butterfield)  on West 22th St. in Chelsea, NY, NY.
  8. An old wooden toolbox, washed up at Little Bay, East River, near the Throgs Neck Bridge, Whitestone, NY.
  9. A portion of “Lorrkon (Hollow Log)” by John Mawurndjul, a leading Australian contemporary indigenous artist. This sculpture relates to the ceremonial use of painted hollow logs to inter people’s bones after death. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, NY.
  10. A sculpture by Ruth Asawa at David Zwirner Gallery,  525 W. 19th St., NY, NY.
  11. A locked door to a now empty ammunition magazine at Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.
  12. A broom and trash cans by the ammunition magazine, Fort Totten Park, Totten Ave. & 15 Rd., Bayside, NY.

***

Containment

 

Feet ache. An afternoon treat of espresso and pastry revives me, and

I relax and look out at the city streets, as fresh now

after coffee, as a green garden framed

by a floating

window, the window’s square geometry signaling the reassuring

order of framed and enclosed spaces, spaces

that hold us as safely as a crated sculpture, the crate’s stamped symbols

advising “This side up” and so

the contents are safe, unbroken, captivating and precious,

like the basket with feathers on its rim, the basket

that could fly, and it did, it flew

like Ruth’s hands when she wove her round forms

(“We always saw her making art, it was part of her everyday existence”),

the empty/full shapes weightless, almost insubstantial, yet

anchored in craft and material,

the looped metal wires and round contours as familiar as a trash container – but

uncommonly beautiful. And even a trash can might

transcend its surroundings, by way of

aquamarine paint –

as the horse transcends the city street even when

wrapped and tied. Waiting patiently, blue-clad movers watch the street for

signs of trouble, and daydream about fishing a strip of

derelict shore where a toolbox sits,

also patient, also transcending its setting by wearing

ragged, green seaweed vestments,

its wooden surface bearing the creamy, painted evidence of usefulness,

which the hollow ceremonial log

sitting quietly in the museum vitrine,

is denied. Covered with tiny cross-hatchings in outback earth colors

(“I put the experience in my head and went to paint the same thing”),

the somber container

sits empty,

longing for the bones it should but will not contain.

Sixty blocks south, another receptacle hangs tenuously

from the ceiling of an art gallery

throwing cross-hatched shadows, whose

curves dance until

the door is shut

and nothing remains

but a sign indicating “No” and

a worn broom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


65 comments

  1. I have always had trouble bringing disparate images together under a unifying theme and you have done it so wonderfully here. And I love how it is all woven into the poem. Words and images coming together!

    • When I looked at the photos from NYC that didn’t fit into “architecture” or a few other categories, the fact that many were containers came to me, so I built from there. It was fun working on this. I’m glad you like the poem – the hardest part! But the most satisfying, since I don’t do it as often.

  2. I’m saddened by the broken tool box, but delighted by the old broom. It reminds me of a favorite proverb from my young years: a new broom sweeps clean, but an old broom knows the corners. There’s so much wisdom there, I’ll take any opportunity I can find to sweep up the proverb again.

    I love the way you looked into and around the corners here — and some other spaces, too.

    • Isn’t it funny how interesting photos of brooms can be? I have another one from a few years ago that came out really well, so whenever I see a good one I try to remember to take a photo of it. It was a good challenge putting this together, thanks!

    • That’s nice, the idea of seeing through someone’s eyes but also looking inward. That horse was so very cool! The photo isn’t technically so great but the visual was fabulous so I guess it didn’t matter that much. Check the link for her sculpture – you’ll like it I think! Happy weekend, amiga!

    • I appreciate that, Paula. This was a satisfying challenge to put together. Funny thing is, I changed the order of the photos a few times so I had to keep changing the poem too – probably a good exercise. 😉

  3. How wonderful is this idea of taking a series auf pictures as a structure for a poem! Each adds something to the other, and the whole has become richer than the sum of the parts can ever be. Pure delight!

    • Good! I thought #2 wasn’t quite right, but I too like that blue, and like the idea of the floating window, plus it fit into the challenge of images with containers, once you realize it contains the view. 😉 As for #11, that one taught me to look twice. At first I wasn’t going to work on it because of the log, which annoyed me – I wanted the image to be more symmetrical and severe. Then I was looking at someone’s work and realized the log adds something so I worked on the photo and decided I really liked it. Thank you, Adrian, and have a lovely weekend!

  4. Nice theme. I liked the baskets (4&5) and then the bit of a double-take with the trash cans in #6. Loved the basket with the shadows in #10. Then there’s something about #11… it has a touch of the cartoonish, or hobbitlike, but then ammunition magazine is another headspin. Who knew NYC actually had things or places that weren’t overrun with mobs of people rushing everywhere? 🙂

    • You would have liked the Ruth Asawa show, and her story is fascinating. Yes, the magazine, with the log and branch sitting there – that was where the photo of the chair in th tunnel a few posts ago was done, too.It was a rich place to poke around in! Please know that NYC is really – really! – a multi-dimensional place, with wonderful wildlife, beautiful trees, nesting hawks, the works. Also quiet streets. It runs the gamut once you leave midtown, especially if you go to any of the other boros.

  5. Great images and a fascinating poem. Well done ! It’s always exciting to create something new and how wonderful to let the fotos guide you and you did so well with your words. I love the dove in the first picture 🙂 With picture Nr. 9 I wanted to ask, what it is, when I found the name of John Mawurndjul. I visited an exhibition of his works here in town several years ago. Great works ! I think the colours reminded me of something:-)

    • I did let the photos guide me, thanks for pointing that out – perfect! And I’m glad you enjoyed the poem – it was challenging, but I felt good when I completed it! I can’t believe Mawrundjul’s work was shown where you live, and you saw it, too! I honestly hadn’t heard of him but I was excited to read about him. In Seattle about 5 years ago there was a terrific Australian painting show, but otherwise, not a lot of “down under” work to see, and that’s too bad. I wish Australia was closer! (Re the colors, are you thinking bees?)

      • The Sprengel Museum in Hannover often shows modern exhibitions (good and not so good, haha). The exhibition with John M. was here in 2006 – incredibly long ago (but I kept the ticket) ! I like this kind of art, but you are right, it is seldom here and unfortunately too far away. No, I am not thinking in bees – not yet 😉 I believe the colours / the kind of painting must have reminded me of some kind of native art. Maybe australian.. The other pictures of the sculptures – did you make them in a museum ? I also like the one from Ruth Asawa.

  6. I applaud your ability to see containers in all these photos. That alone was a feat. There are so many of these photos I really like, some—like number 1—for unexplainable reasons. I know I’m partial to trash bins, so it’s no surprise that I favor numbers 6 and 12. Still I can’t help thinking that you have made them even more special. I like the blue-green color of the bin in number 6, and I think the edge of the other bin to the right in that photo is somehow essential. Do I see iridescence on the basket inside the bin? Whatever, it’s a lovely touch. In number 12, it’s so cool that the broom—handle and bristles—and the left bin and the wall all are black and white—oh, and also part of the pavement! Also, rust on the brown bin matches (of course) the rust on the pavement. Number 12 has to be my very favorite. However, number 11 is sooooo lovely. The colors and the shapes, and your composition, are absolutely wonderful.

    • The closed door to the magazine could be a stretch, but otherwise, it seemed clear that all the rest are containers or being contained. I think maybe #1 has a fun & spontaneous feeling, and the colors were so nice – not my doing, just what was there. And boy, was that pastry good! I was definitely thinking of you when I posted #6 – I really thought that was a Linda image. Yes, I tried it with/without the other bin. 😉 Great minds… Iridescence – I really don’t know. I was moving rather quickly at the time. Re #11, that was taken with the Olympus in-camera “Dramatic Tone” filter and hardly processed afterwards – it sort of does a high contrast, bleach bypass look that works well when things need/can handle more punch. Worked well for the subject matter I think (and when it doesn’t, the camera spits out a RAW image too so you can use that). #11 wasn’t one I liked at first, as I said above somewhere, because of the log. Then I was looking at another photgrapher’s work (I think it was Teju Cole) and realized the log does work, I just had to frame it the right way, give it enough contrast, balance the colors, etc. It’s fun when an image you thought wouldn’t work does, because you figure out how to see it. Thanks for your thoughts, I enjoyed them!

  7. I so enjoyed your post Lynn – honestly these are items most people will walk by without a second glance but you’ve turned them into art. And your poem is fabulous to go with them. Beautifully done!

  8. This is a fascinating and unique (I think) effort — composing a poem based on a sequence of images — that bears repeating. From your responses to comments, it sounds like it was a lot of work, so maybe it becomes more doable if you limit the number of pictures. Several people on the web are writing haiku based on a single photo, but maybe there’s a middle ground. Of course you can also go in the opposite direction 🙂

    • Maybe I’ll try it again sometime – it got very tricky when I switched the order of the images and had to rewrite lines of the poem – at least three times. 😉 And you’re right, I’ve been including loads of images lately in my posts – I seem to have a lot, since the trip to NY and because I have more time to take pictures in general. A middle ground….something else to ponder. Thank you!

  9. It’s always such a pleasure turning over to your blog. It’s always full of captivating images, and you never know what you might find. These images are quite different from some of your other work. More stylistic and minimal.

    • Well, it’s always a pleasure hearing your reaction, too. It’s good to stretch out of one’s usual box, isn’t it? I’m very drawn to minimal art, but the landscape here, which I also love, is super complex (as you well know!) so I guess I work with complexity much more than I pare down to the essence.

  10. putting things and stuff in or on hold…lovely textures and i like the concept…i feel i can gather and collect beautiful pieces of nature in many of your images…i appreciate your narrative threads and love to revisit your works…it’s clever and i like that ~ bigs smiles and you and your loved ones have a wonderful thanksgiving weekend ~ hugs and ❤

  11. Hey, Lyn. Well we just saw your message to us, pre-NYC visit… arrrrghhhh!! So sorry we missed you here!! 2 geeks blog continues to exist, but our laptop no longer does (I’m at work writing this); hence the months-long lapse in posts and utter neglect of messages 😦
    Looks like you had a fun time with your camera, however… May we have your contact info for future reference (and visits)? Jean

  12. You have such an amazing eye Lynn. I visited some woods last week with ‘What would Lynn make of this?’ in my head. I don’t think I did terribly well but there was a hard frost and I got a few images but nothing like yours.

    • Wow, what a wonderful thing to hear, coming from you. Thank you. Those frosts can be amazing, right? We don’t get them often but now that I’m retired, I’ll be able to take advantage of them. And to address your comment about having an eye, besides any genetic tendencies to seeing things a bit differently, I think four years in art school when I was young was instrumental. It was a time of conceptual art, performance, and minimalism, which boiled down to looking past assumptions and questioning, questioning, questioning. With all that, I should be doing much more interesting work than I am, really.


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