Tag Archives: Mulberry Gap

Ruth Laxson. Biking. Rilke.

I just returned from 10 glorious days south of the Mason-Dixon Line in sunny Georgia. Doug and I drove the 1000+ miles with our bicycles through snowstorms for a week of incredible mountain biking at Mulberry Gap in the Georgia Mountain Bike Capital Ellijay. But before we took to our bikes, we spent a weekend with my brother and his family in Atlanta. What fun to see him and his two boys.

Country mouse in the big city, I had to make time to check out two amazing art exhibitions. Ruth Laxson–one of my favorite contemporary artists– at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), and Frida and Diego at the High. I knew about the Laxson exhibit, Hip Young Owl, and learned about Frida and Diego from the billboards lining the highway as we drove into the city.

And not only was it a glorious day of art, when we arrived at MOCA, Ruth Laxson was leaving, so I got to meet and talk with her a bit before viewing the exhibit.

Meeting Ruth Laxson

Meeting Ruth Laxson

Laxson is a well-known book artist and printmaker in certain circles. I discovered her work in grad school. She came into her own in her 60′s. She’s now 89 and shows no sign of stopping!

Pasted into one of Laxson's sketchbooks.

Pasted into one of Laxson’s sketchbooks.

Text, texture, image, thread, mail, dots, paper and commentary on the human condition define her work. Her newest series, drawings entitled God Doll’s, drew me into her visual language. Her use of repetition, automatic writing as texture yet also an important part of her composition–a framing device, a ground, a form–the figure, not as we know it, but as it forms from the shapes, textures and marks she creates. There’s a freeness and openness to these figures that brings me to her world. When looking at her work, those who know my work understand immediately why I love this artist’s creations.

What I did not know was the role of mail art in Laxson’s career. In the 1980s she participated in numerous mail art exchanges and did so for many years. She even has a series of mail art post boxes that were included in the exhibit. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll be like her when I’m 89. I got my press at 41, she got hers at 63. So maybe there’s hope for me!

Here are some of my favorite images from the exhibit:

After a couple of hours of soaking in all that is Hip, we headed over to the High to see the Frida and Diego exhibit. Many of the paintings on view were ones that I had never seen. It focused a bit more on Diego than Frida, including many of his earliest paintings, paintings when he hadn’t found his own visual language and was still copying that of Picasso, Cezanne and other artists at the start of the 20th century. Many of the pieces in the exhibit were not only new to me but also zeroed in on Frida and Diego’s tumultuous relationship. In spite of their many ups and downs, she made this wonderful little piece for him in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary. It was one of my favorite images in the entire exhibit.

Frida's gift to Diego in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Frida’s gift to Diego in honor of their 15th wedding anniversary.

Of course Doug and I had to take part in the camp that often surround Frida and Diego.

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But regardless, this day of art, then time with my little brother and his family, followed by an incredible week of mountain biking keeps me thinking about this Rilke writing from March 14th in A Year with Rilke.

Praise the World
Praise the world to the angel: leave the unsayable aside. 
Your exalted feeling do not move him.
In the universe he inhabits you are a novice. 
Therefore show him what is ordinary, what has been
shaped from generation to generation, shaped by hand and eye.
Tell him of things. He will stand still in astonishment,
the you stood by the ropemaker in Rome
or beside the potter on the Nile. 
Show him how happy a thing can be, ho innocent and ours, 
how even a lament takes pure form,
serves as a thing, dies as a thing,
wile a violin, blessing it, fades.
 
And the things, even as they pass,
understand that we praise them.
Transient, they are trusting us
to save them–us, the most transient of all.
As if they wanted in our invisible hearts
to be transformed
into—oh, endlessly—into us. 
                                   From the Ninth Duino Elegy