ddrees art

My art work and thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘e e cummings’

Ninety Years Old

Posted by ddrees on July 8, 2009


D  rwbays are getting shorter again. My mother was ninety years old on the fourth of July. She has always taken pleasure in having the fourth of July as her birthday. She said she was red, white and blue; red hair, white skin, blue eyes.momolderVA

She has the longest ribbon of DAR ancestor bars I have ever seen, over thirty, and she wore them proudly. By amazing synchronicity, I spoke on the phone last night to my youngest sister who was visiting Utica for Mom’s birthday and she told me that the ancestor bars had been missing but that they had recently found them . The DAR friends of Mom who had come to the July 3rd birthday party had put the pressure on Sis to be in the July fourth parade so she acquiesced (a first) and wore the ancestor bars. Grandfather always used to march in the parade. He had an antique military costume, I think Civil War, and was in a small group of guys called “the ancients”, (Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston) This is more interesting to me now than back in the day. Always patriotic, Mom delighted in going to DAR conventions in DC in her mature years; too busy and poor when we were kids. She liked to be an organizer of receptions for Uticans who just received their citizenship, one of the various tasks her DAR group upholds.

I remember quite a few of her birthdays. Once I gathered some of my grandmother’s July fourth blooming roses to make a circlet on her cake. Cakes were a big deal to me and she taught me to make them from scratch. I was famous in first and second grade for drawing birthday cakes in perspective for classmate’s birthdays. I would draw the outline and they would decorate them from there. They looked a lot like these by Wayne Thiebaud.

Wayne Thiebaud  Cakes

Wayne Thiebaud Cakes

Mom was an excellent tailor and taught me a lot of that too. We would design clothes and Mom would figure out how to put them together. I copied this Betsey McCall blue and white striped dress when I was in fifth or sixth grade. I really loved that dress.

betsey mccall paper dolls

betsey mccall paper dolls

Mom studied home economics at UVM and design at the Traphagen School in NYC. She worked a short time as a ship’s draftsman but she met my Dad and brought him back to her hometown. He was happy to escape hell’s kitchen and was convalescing from TB and they found civilian jobs at Griffiths Air Force Base in Rome during the war, he teaching radio stuff.

After children started to come she was all about home and hearth. I am nothing like that. I have not figured out why trajectories are what they became.

Up till my twenties and thirties I used to make clothes, go to G Street Remnant in DC when it was still on G Street and fall in love with certain pieces of cloth.

The dress in this school picture from the eighties was one of the last dresses I made. (I am the straw hat and dress) It was a superb French cotton, couturier quality from G Street. Work became too demanding and due to worldwide underpaid labor, store bought clothes became incredibly cheap. The really good fabrics are not there but…. Mom always took pride in dressing us well and turned her nose up at ordinary stuff.  She also did great knitting and taught me that too, but unlike some who find knitting relaxing I would find it nerve wracking and anxiety would build as I tried to get it finished, stitch after relentless,tedious stitch, like driving at night in a snow storm.

first Art Department at CCBC in the eighties

first Art Department at CCBC in the eighties

Here we are in the forties dressed to match with clothes made by Mom. I think this a real family tartan, good stuff, Scottish made. The velvet jackets and hats were hunter green.

sister mom and dd

sister mom and dd

These are corduroy jumpers. They were a nice medium blue green. See how my dad dotes on my mom. After being poor in the depression and almost succumbing to TB he felt he was in paradise already. I think that was true!

Christmas 46 blue-green jumpers

Christmas 46 blue-green jumpers

The items in this drawing feature handworks from the women in my family, Grandmother’s china painting, Sisters engraving and jewelry and Mother’s ceramics.

Framed ©d drees 1982 , pen and ink

Framed ©d drees 1982 , pen and ink

© Charles Burchfield -The Sphinx and the Milky Way-1946

© Charles Burchfield -The Sphinx and the Milky Way-1946

In Framed there are also pictures pinned to the wall from my museum, Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute (MWPI), which looms large in my legend. They have a wonderful Charles Burchfield collection that is a great influence on me. In my ink drawing, Burchfield’s The Sphinx and the Milky Way is the largest pinned up picture at the top. The Thomas Cole Voyage of Life series at MWPI is one of two sets, the other being at the National Gallery in DC. Naturally I like the Utica set best. There is a detail from the first picture in the set, Childhood, pinned on the wall in the ink drawing at the upper left. The pinned up picture to the left of the tulip poplar leaf is the entrance to my grandfather’s backyard. I had cleaned out his backroom after he died to use as a summer studio in my last years of college. Below the leaf is a mysterious postcard of sheep from Hokaido that grandpa had sent his mother in the teens and that I have used as a picture reference in art work more than once.

Cole_Thomas_The_Voyage_of_Life_Childhood_1842-MWPI

Cole_Thomas_The_Voyage_of_Life_Childhood_1842-MWPI

Toy-by-Baziotes-MWPI

Toy-by-Baziotes-MWPI

Established in 1919, MWPI provided me with a very sophisticated view of the arts for a kid from Utica. In the forties and fifties I believe, but am not sure, they had artist visitors like Phillip Guston, Theodoros Stamos, Baziotes, Rothko and that ilk from whom they would acquire choice pieces. Somebody had terrific taste, but I was  too young to know how that worked. But I got to grow up seeing excellent stuff with the paint barely dry.

When I was in high school I saw Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor  and Jose Greco perform at MWPI. My sister and I regularly borrowed recordings and art books from the MWPI library. We listened to ethnic music, folk music, Elizabethan songs and various obscure recordings that were not commonly found. In 1966 or so I put a frame on an ink drawing of a tree I had done at Skidmore and had it accepted in the Artist’s of Central New York Regional at MWPI, my first exhibit in an adult show.

©1966 d drees , Tree , brush and ink

©1966 d drees , Tree , brush and ink

Dad took us to art shows at MWPI when we were little, way before the Phillip Johnson building was built. We took classes there from kindergarten to high school. Mom’s ceramics and Sister’s early jewelry were made there. We watched the Phillip Johnson building going down several stories subterranean and then up in the fifties. It was and is an elegant international style building. I remember the row of Victorian Procter family houses that were raised to make space. My mom remembers the childless Mrs. Proctor , who started the MWPI foundation, driving in her electric car in the twenties.

Phillip Johnson Building-MWPI

Phillip Johnson Building-MWPI

We lived just a block down the street. MWPI eventually acquired the greater part of our family land for their new school, except for my mom’s ante bellum (Civil War) house. She has lived on that street for all ninety of her years. We felt it was a good thing to have the school built up around mom in her old age for safety reasons though MWPI would rather have acquired the whole property. She takes pleasure in what she can, being frail now. She seems to have some lingering disappointment for not having traveled much and surprise at the shortness of ninety years. One set of ninety years is nowhere near enough to encompass it all. But who says it is supposed too.

for life’s not a paragraph

and death i think is no parenthesis

e. e. cummings, since feeling is first

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sun moon stars rain

Posted by ddrees on August 17, 2008

When I was in Freshman English at Skidmore in 1963 we were asked to analyze e e cummings “anyone lived in a pretty how town”. Everyone, even the worst reprobate Union College boys, thought e e cummings was the coolest. In my class, girls who had gone to the High School of Music and Art seemed to be able to talk in secret language to the teacher, Donald Tritschler, who I think was in his first year of teaching. I did not know what he was talking about or asking us to talk about. I was in a cold sweat in that class. I felt that we had not been prepared at Utica Free Academy to trust our own ideas or instincts when reading, so things were sucked in and held in abeyance till someone with authority would steer us towards what to think. I really loved the stuff we read and thought a great deal about it but I was expecting that coming from the provinces to this golden place would allow me to be filled with the external wisdom that they had and I did not. So I was tongue-tied. It took me till junior year to work this out when Arnold Bittleman, my late great drawing teacher, said in a lecture that when he went to college he expected to be able to be filled with external wisdom but then found out that it came from inside. I do not know the source of this Bittleman Self Portrait. I grabbed it off the internet years ago.

 

Self Portrait   © Arnold Bittleman

Self Portrait © Arnold Bittleman

But  I got through Freshman year through the kindness of my teacher’s hearts and it took me the next three years to get my grades up to an average that would let me in graduate school.

Unbeknownst to Donald Tritschler, the poem has resonated in my imagery. It may be a little abstruse crossing from verbal to visual but it works for me. The art teachers at Skidmore never managed to indoctrinate me into thinking that having literary elements in one’s art was anathema. That was part of that era that I am glad is forgotten. Who is Clement Greenberg? No link for him in my blog. See Tom Wolfe instead.

Here is the poem.

by e e cummings

anyone lived in a pretty how town

(with up so floating many bells down)

spring summer autumn winter

he sang his didn’t he danced his did

 

women and men(both little and small)

cared for anyone not at all

they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same

sun moon stars rain

 

children guessed(but only a few

and down they forgot as up they grew

autumn winter spring summer)

that noone loved him more by more

 

when by now and tree by leaf

she laughed his joy she cried his grief

bird by snow and stir by still

anyone’s any was all to her

 

someones married their everyones

laughed their cryings and did their dance

(sleep wake hope and then)they

said their nevers they slept their dream

 

stars rain sun moon

(and only the snow can begin to explain

how children are apt to forget to remember

with up so floating many bells down)

 

one day anyone died i guess

(and noone stooped to kiss his face)

busy folk buried them side by side

little by little and was by was

 

all by all and deep by deep

and more by more they dream their sleep

noone and anyone earth by april

wish by spirit and if by yes.

 

women and men(both dong and ding)

summer autumn winter spring

reaped their sowing and went their came

sun moon stars rain

 

From Complete Poems: 1904-1962 by E. E. Cummings, edited by George J. Firmage. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1923, 1931, 1935, 1940, 1951, 1959, 1963, 1968, 1991 by the Trustees for the E. E. Cummings Trust. Copyright © 1976, 1978, 1979 by George James Firmage.

Lines from this poem wash across my brain often. Below are some of my artworks that I see as having a kinship to it.

 

Mimicking the Sun ©Dedree Drees 1978 watercolor

Mimicking the Sun ©Dedree Drees 1978 watercolor

Sun Flare © Dedree Drees 1996  digital

Sun Flare © Dedree Drees 1996 digital

Landscape - pink ©dedree drees 1995

Pink Landscape ©1995 Dedree Drees digital

Why wait any longer for the world to begin © Dedree Drees 1969, etching

Why wait any longer for the world to begin © Dedree Drees 1969, etching

Above named from a Bob Dylan song lyric

Dreamer ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Dreamer ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Waves of Flowers tiles   BWI airport garage

Waves of Flowers tiles BWI airport garage

Newton to Blake Landscape ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

Newton to Blake Landscape ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The multiple sky idea is just an appreciation of all the light shows we get to watch, no two alike and in every color you can imagine. I believe there are plenty of Flickr groups on the subject.  You know ‘”the world is so full of a number of things, that I think we should all be as happy as Kings”.

Mirabile Visu © dedree drees 1980  watercolor

Mirabile Visu © dedree drees 1980 watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees watercolor

Skies ©1980 dedree drees pastel

Skies ©1980 dedree drees pastel

There is a nice old German song about the good moon Guter Mond du gehst so stille with awareness of people from all times and places connecting by seeing the same old moon.

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

Ryder Moon ©1981 dedree drees watercolor

OCD helps your art in many ways. It took me a while to pick out the exact watercolor pigments to bleed as I wanted them to for Ryder Moons. Here is Albert Pinkham Ryder.

Albert Pinkham Ryder   Moonlight

Albert Pinkham Ryder Moonlight

Dover Beach ©1987 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

Dover Beach ©1987 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

This named for Mathew Arnold Poem –Dover Beach. Being literary again

Beach Montage  ©1996 dedree drees digital

Sometimes I can not get wordpress to show the captions- do not know why. The image above is from 1996 and is a digital version of Dover Beach.

God Bless Baltimore ©1982 watercolor

God Bless Baltimore ©1982 watercolor

Sheep May Safely Graze  © Dedree Drees handcolored etching

Sheep May Safely Graze © Dedree Drees handcolored etching

Above named for Bach Cantata- “Schafe können sicher weiden”. You can play that at my funeral

Klein blue sky ©1996 dedree drees digital

Klein blue sky ©1996 dedree drees digital

International Klein Blue is a color Yves Klein painted on many things. I saw his show in the Jewish museum in 1967 or 1968. He had died young in 1962. Unbelievably I find a Wikipedia link here to IKB. The world is so full of a number of things…

Klein Blue sky ©1996 Dedree Drees digital

Klein Blue sky ©1996 Dedree Drees digital

Yellow stars ©1996 dedree drees digital

Yellow stars ©1996 dedree drees digital

Fooling around with colorways on the computer – sure is fun. I mean it!

Cumberland Fall ©1989 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

Cumberland Fall ©1989 dedree drees watercolor and marbling

The above was from a photo taken on a rainy day as we drove to Pittsburgh for my father-in-laws funeral. So it is rainy,sad,cyclic, eternal.

Lightening scape ©1995 dedree drees digital

This is 1995 Lightening scape, digital, from the same photo as Cumberland Fall.

The Rain Beats the Rain  ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The Rain Beats the Rain ©1979 Dedree Drees watercolor

The title is from an haiku but I do not remember where I first saw it. This is the best link I found though it is not the same translation.

Leaves falling
Lie on one another
The rain beats the rain

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