Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Galore

Last weekend I once again worked the all night drawing session I've mentioned in the past. It seemed like it might have been a smaller group, especially compared to last year, but there was still a lively energy, and people doing some beautiful work. I think many of the foundation students -who make up the bulk of the group- realize at this event just how much they've learned over the year. Their skill set has expanded and deepened, they've maybe gained greater rigor, then this event comes along at just the right point for them to rediscover the joy they feel in drawing as well. I don't know if that was the original intention of this event, but it's a nice result. As is often the case, I connected with some nice new people, including this artist. Marc spent the night in the costume room, which I was working for the first time this year; I went up in the very last session (starting at 4:30 am), right before the big nudie writhe-fest that is the grand finale. You can see many of the sketches he did that night if you go here, including the one he did of me, in my Dickensian garb. I think Marc deserves special credit for doing work of that quality at 5 o'clock in the blessed am. The sketch directly to the right is an excellent likeness of my friend Kika, who worked right before me, so, still really freakin' early in the morning. This draw-a-thon phenomenon (say that out loud, it's fun) is bizarre little undertaking, but it often has some fun results.

Much as I regret it, I am basically monolingual. I have studied other languages though, and that has given me a tiny glimpse of how different languages can create different world views, maybe even different worlds. The first time I noticed this was with a couple of translations for the word 'enough'.

Take Italian, for example, where the word is basta. I'm sure the word gets used in all the ways we use enough, but it is seems to me basta is a word designed to be a command. Its collection of plosives and sibilants, its emphasis on the first syllable, and its matched pair of vowel sounds all make it a surprising combination of bark and hiss that stops people in their tracks, telling us the speaker has reached her limit. Basta! Try it, if you haven't already. Isn't that satisfying? Sure, yelling 'enough' is clear; we know a person means business when he does so, but the sounds just don't have the same power, if you ask me. Enough is a gentler, perhaps more objective word. Only one voiced consonant (and n's don't exactly strike fear in a heart) an iambic rhythm, no, this word doesn't really command attention in the same way. It implies a middle ground, an acceptable, Goldilocks state, neither too much nor too little, no extremes or excess. It's a comforting word, in a way I would never imagine basta could be, though maybe fluent Italian speakers would disagree.

Then there's the Irish word, which is go leor. This word has actually made it into common usage in English, as the word galore, but its meaning is hardly that of restraint or a middle ground. As used in English anyway, galore suggests opulence, extravagance, or at least an elegant sufficiency far beyond a Puritanical idea of mere adequacy. I suggest this difference of opinion of what constitutes a sufficiency illustrates a key distinction between the world views of the Saxon and the Celt.

I've had a number of experiences recently that have me using the word galore. Something about this season calls for it, I think. The explosion of growing things hasn't even reached its peak yet, and I'm already overwhelmed by a sense of exuberant life all around me. Blossoms and scents are cascading all over the city, and as usual my seasonal amnesia has me marveling, as if I'm seeing all this for the first time. A sense of rebirth is easy for me to tap into at this time of year. Guilt and regret may not entirely lose their hold on me, but their power definitely wanes as I wander about an earth getting on with the 'business of life'. Spring brings out the Celt in me, where too much is never enough.

As usual, my attempt to organize my photos according to an intended narrative was thwarted by Blogger. So in no particular order, please enjoy my photos galore.

This clump of my little friends were the first ones to tip me off that it might already be violet season. I wouldn't even have gone looking for them for another week or two if it weren't for this bunch. They're in a very protected area, and are clearly early scouts for the tribe, which just makes it all the better for me.
Having gotten the heads up, I checked in with my Central Park field, to find that while most of the blossoms haven't opened fully yet, they are definitely making a strong showing, and what's more, there is less tall stuff obscuring their presence than I'm used to seeing here. I feel like I lucked out and got tickets to an excellent preview. I'll be back many more times to see this show.
Elsewhere in the park I saw this white violet, and below, you'll find a photo of a yellow one, that grew nearby. One of the reason I love violets so much is they always feel like treasure I've come across by accident, even when I know where and when to look. I also just live their apparent enthusiasm. Galore comes up a lot when I look at violets too.
Camille and I are coming to a better understanding all the time when it comes to photos of people. Witness this shot I took of my friend Burton (in front of the Metropolitan Opera) when he was here for a visit last week. Reconnecting with old friends (Burton and I have known each other for nearly a quarter of a century) takes on an additional sense of blessing in Spring, for some reason.

Camille and I still have some work to do reaching an understanding of color. But I remain optimistic.

Easter morning I was invited to have brunch with my friends Jeff and Genna. For once I managed to snap a photo, in focus, of handsome Jeff before he noticed and made a goofy face. It was not to happen ever again that day. I am pleased nonetheless.
This was my first time seeing Chula (yes, Chula; she came with that name from the pound) after she spent a week in my apartment. I didn't get quite the cuddling I was hoping for, but she, like her roommate Jeff, allowed me a photo of her without a struggle for a change. All the photos I have from her week here are of the back of her (usually blurry) head.

A festive Spring table setting.

My beloved Genna, talking on the phone to her family in Ohio, just before her nephew, my little buddy Rhys, asked to speak to me. Getting to know and love Genna's family has been one of the many blessings of our friendship.

Here is what I hope is a better photo than the one I took last year, of a bush that puts out an intoxicating scent. It smells the way a lemon drop (the candy, not the drink) tastes, if that makes sense. I still have no idea what it is, but I've now found it in both Central Park and close to my home. Sunday I think I stood next to the CP bush for close to twenty minutes inhaling deeply. I must get back soon, I don't know how long these blossoms last. Does anyone know what it is? I want to plant huge banks of it in my yet-to-be garden.

Right or wrong, it seems to me like the daffodils are later than usual this year, and the violets earlier than usual, resulting in a combination I've never noticed before. Daffodils have never interested me much in the past, but I find myself rethinking that policy this year. They've been spectacular.

Perhaps this image more than any other will benefit from enlarging.

Because it's early spring, I'm able to enjoy the austere beauty of winter trees, and blossoms at the same time.

I caught my beloved Melissa by accident in this image, but I loved the effect, even if she's cropped more than I would have chosen. This photo reminds me of something else, and I can't quite place what it is. Is it the cover of a Duran Duran album? The one containing the song "Rio"? Well, whatever it is, I love the way even this sliver of an image shows you the way Melissa radiates light.

And look here! I'm even managing to take a photo in focus of me with Melissa! And I don't even have that "I'm concentrating really really hard to hold the camera steady" look. Camille and I are making great strides. Can anyone tell me what this flower is? I love how this tree seems to be spot-lit.

This image perhaps best epitomizes this winter-into-spring time of year.
Near Bethesda fountain there was a moment I found myself standing between skilled acrobats with an impressive show (and polished patter), and an equally skilled string ensemble playing Handel's The Entrance of the Queen of Sheba. I found the acrobats first, and one of them said "if you see something you can't do, make some noise." There followed, naturally, several good excuses to do so. As I was listening to the strings, I realized that gymnastics and chamber music were both things I had dabbled in - and loved - at some point. That dabbling gave me a greater understanding of just how often I could have been making noise while watching both groups. It was humbling, but also pleasing somehow. I was able to keep the "you're a dilettante" voice in my head largely muffled.

I hope the sap is rising for you, and the season of new beginnings is inspiring joy and optimism.


Greg said...

Just beautiful. This post is a celebration of so many different kinds of beauty: the friendships, old and new (including you and Camille!), the art, the flowers. Spring in New York seems, if possible, a little more special than spring elsewhere.

I'm still as uncertain about your white-flowered bush (the lemony fragrance throws me. Is it a mock orange, perhaps? It looks like something wild I've been seeing lots of hereabouts lately. I'll watch to see if it blooms similarly.) as I was a year ago, but consider me "on the case."

I'd have thought the violets would be a little later than the daffs as well, but this does seem the year for altered blooming schedules.

The mystery flower with the red tips appears to be some variety of species tulip - they bloom earlier and are shorter-stemmed, but I think the flowers are prettier than their fancy cultivated cousins.

Unknown said...

Wow, thanks for the special credit! That was some of the most fun I've had in a while. I run a figure drawing session, but it's all nude, so your "mad hatter" outfit (as I saw it....") was lots of fun to work with. Thanks again!

Joe Jubinville said...

Galore has always suggested to me a kind of festive abundance, with a subtext of "all over the place!" I was delighted when you informed us that it means "enough." My sentiments exactly.

Marc's work is sensational. I'm a huge fantasy fan, and so glad that classical syntax and technique has a life there.

The picture of the trees at the top of the stairs is gorgeous and haunting - with a fantasy elan in its own right. The Ramble? That piece of the park is so fraught with eros, danger, and atavistic beauty.

Unknown said...

Hello Sweetest Patrick! I love that I could be part of your growing experiences with Camille (I hadn't realized she had been so identified!)
I have a few pictures from our "hike and sit" I might have successfully sent it last night even :-)
You are so filled with love and joy for the abundance of everything. We are all so lucky that you have this place to share it!

Birdie said...

That last photo of the carpet of violets reminds me of my back yard, only ours are white. I hate that they eventually get mowed, but they're beautiful right now.

Congrats on your improving relationship with Camille! The photos are just great. That rocky streambed: is it natural? I'd sit there all day in the sun.

For all its variety, this post is filled with life and love. Thank you!

Java said...

The pictures are great. I'm impressed with your growing relationship with Camille, that you are getting clearer pictures without so much blur.

The pictures you paint with your words, however, are my favorite part of this post. You are a wordsmith.

Butch said...

What a great post, Patrick. The pictures were definitely full of spring things to do, with visiting friends, having dinner, tramps around the city and park, truly enjoyable.

Speaking of commanding words or expressions, there is another two ways of asking for things in Italian that I recall from my studies in that language, and they are the polite way of asking for something and the commanding way.
Vorrei and Voglio or Dovete and Dovreste.
e.g. Voglio dei biglietti.
(I want some tickets.)
Vorrei dei biglietti.
( I would like some tickets. )
Dovete lavorare di più.
(You have to work harder.)
Dovreste lavorare di più.
(You should (or ought to) work harder.)
Most Italians prefer the more polite form or request, as do we.

Wonderful entry, thanks.

Butch said...

Oh, brother . . . that should be "there are two ways" . . . must have been a brain fart.