Posts Tagged ‘truth


a week of self-portraits: friday


your succulence

when you are writing your blog, are you predicting your future? isn’t what you’ll post tomorrow as foreordained as it is to put one foot in front of the other to walk across the room? the subject may change, but the intent has been decided; you have your tropes, rhythms, synecdoches (i thought i would never see the day that i would use ‘synecdoche’ in a sentence), just as i do: a photograph as springboard for thoughts, random or intended, memories, predictions; it is not unlike walking along the edge of a cliff. you have decisions to make; how safe will you be today, what risks will you take tomorrow, how close to the truth will you hew, how far are you willing to go to get to that truth, how much will you lie to yourself (no one who reads your words will know whether or not you’re being truthful, at least not those who do not know you well, and those that do, what of it?)


the palms at 6:02, 6:07, and 6:11 a.m. on may 18, 2012

it’s possible that i’m lying.

we all do. everyday we embellish and expand, omit and conveniently forget the truth.

even these photographs are lies for they tell not the actual truth of the moments in which they were captured (time being the first fact to evaporate into the ether of “it doesn’t matter”).

they’ve been manipulated and saturated, the contrast has been swung to the right while the brightness has been toned down/up, but they come close to the way i saw them for the briefest moment yesterday morning sometime after 6 and before 6:30 while taking the dogs for their morning walk (the dogs on a morning walk is true.)


six views of three roses

i think you’re a well-regarded writer hiding behind a pseudonym.

i think you’re afraid of social interaction, in spite of the people you surround yourself with.

i think you are over-dramatic. (as we all are at times, sympathy being the balm of the emotionally impoverished.)

i think you have a hard time seeing the real you.

i think it doesn’t matter what i think.

i think you think i’m presumptuous for even thinking these things of you and you and you and you.

i think i’ll stop now.


how to spoil an 8 year old’s christmas (but just in case i was wrong, coordinates provided)

30°  this morning, saturday, december 24, 2011, as i was facing south at 6:49 a.m. pst, the sun came up and spread a pink blanket of light across the ocean

-117°  when i turned to the east at 6:52 a.m. pst, its fiery heat lit up the sky in oranges licked with red which, for some reason, reminded me of…

…i don’t recall taking pleasure in spoiling my cousin’s christmas in 196_, at least not at first, although after his tears had subsided, no doubt assuaged by the mountain of gifts set before him by his doting parents, it may have come to me that speaking the truth may have unintended consequences — some that you can control and others that you cannot; you just need to remember to assess the risk/benefit factors before opening your mouth which is not always easy at any age (i speak from experience.)

banished by grown-ups to the rec room in the basement (or bored by the grown-ups we retreated to the rec room on our own) on christmas eve, he and i, never close to begin with, stood facing each other across the pool/ping-pong/foosball/game table and not knowing what else to say, but feeling pressure to say something, i blurted out, “you know, there is no santa claus.”

i stood there and watched as his face crumpled, his eyes welled up with tears, and a wail of disbelief left his lips, but by this time, just seconds after speaking the truth, my ears were burning and humming with blood, drowning out any sounds–watching him in pantomime then as he ran up the short flight of stairs from basement to foyer and up again to the living room (split-levels, you do remember them, don’t you?), the deep pile of sculpted carpeting like quicksand, all of this in slow motion, me following to see what would happen.

if only there were more to tell.  all i know for sure is that evening a shift in our relationship occurred and although we were cousins born the same year just two days apart, living in the same small town, we never really ever were friends.


baldessari, opie & eakins (not necessarily in that order) part 2

the baldessari retrospective pretty much put me over the moon.  i believe he is one of the few conceptual artists that most viewers of art can appreciate.  that is not to say his work is easily digestible, for it is & it isn’t (it’s sticky & haunting, in a good way).   your first impression of his work at this decade-by-decade retrospective is of his early ‘sign’ paintings; they are witty & irreverent & i believe that the comedy at the surface makes it easy to say, “i like this guy.”  what happens afterward is that his joke (like all good jokes) is based on the truth.

they’re also a little slippery (like a piece of fruit you’ve just bitten into); you think you’ve got a handle on his subtext & intent, & the meaning suddenly starts to drip down your chin & onto your hands & you grapple with it as if it might slip right out of your hands & land with a plop on the floor at your feet.

"god nose" by john baldessari, oil on canvas 1965

baldessari makes you look at art in new ways & to re-consider how & what you believe is art.  two works from the 70s illustrated this; one a linear series of 41 color photographs of a red ball that had been thrown up against the blue, blue sky, each photograph connected by a ‘thread’ of graphite so that the balls all formed a straight line (some photos were higher/lower than others to achieve this effect).  each photo was spaced exactly the same distance from the following one in an open invitation to travel its entire length (possibly 20′ or 30′) as you bear witness to its trajectory in each photograph.  the revelation, for me, was that when you stood back from the work, it was a sinuous line of blue, a shallow wave coming ashore.  beautiful.

the 2nd: “wrong” from 1966-68, one of the sign paintings that also incorporated photographs features a photograph of the artist taken in front of a suburban tract house.  he is positioned so that a palm tree appears to grow directly out of his head (which is ‘wrong’), but it is also wrong that an artist (a successful one at least) would be living in a suburb, & in a suburb in southern california (not new york).   but yet, the viewer, although ‘in’ on the joke, is still forced to decide whether it is the truth or not.  (hint: it is.)

baldessari has stated that “a word can’t substitute for an image, but is equal to it.”  his heavily ironic appropriation of quotes from art critics (& theoretically art historians–shudder) confront the notions of art & aesthetics held sacrosanct by these writers.

but, because he lets us all in on the joke, that fresh approach is completely democratic & as i said at the beginning of this post, it is completely approachable by all viewers regardless of sophistication, education, knowledge.    the combination of the narrative power of images with their counterpart, the associative power of language make baldessari, i believe, a touchstone for post-modern art-making.


to tell the truth

“if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” –mark twain

he lurched forward & fell to the sidewalk, knees first followed by his outstretched palms, his head hitting the sidewalk & even though i was at least a 1/2 block away i thought i could hear the crack of his skull when it banged onto the concrete.   i ran toward him & as i got closer, he looked up at me with the pleading eyes of a child, “i’m hurt,” he cried, “where’s mary?”

this elderly man i saw almost every day, walking with his radio earphones jammed over a khaki bucket hat.  we had a nodding acquaintance.  i’d seen where he lived (the community in the valley below ours); sometimes coming out of his garage on his way for a walk, while i, likewise, was out walking, sometimes with the dogs, & sometimes alone.

“i’m hurt,” he said again, “help me.”  a childlike terror emanated from him, his voice may have squeaked, a young boy, hurt.

“don’t get up, just lay back down on the sidewalk until we can figure out what’s happened to you,” words from my mouth came out; i touched/rubbed/handled his arms looking for broken bones (only bloody scratches.)

“i’m hurt,” he cried, tears welling in the wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, “where’s mary?” he asked again.

“is mary your wife?  tell me your name.”


“dick, do you know who the president is right now?” (too much t.v.)

“where’s mary?”  he cried again, sobbing now.  i put my arms around him & held him close.  a neighbor woman came out of her house, “call 911, please,” i asked & she dashed back inside to make the call.  when she came back out, i asked her to sit with dick while i ran down the hill to his house to get his wife.

their garage door was open (no car inside,) i ran in, the door to the kitchen was open & i tentatively called out “mary, mary, are you in here?”  no response.  i ran back out & there she was in their car making the corner, i ran waving to her “stop, stop!”

“dick has fallen up in our neighborhood, we’ve called 911, he’s hurt & disoriented.  i’ll take you there,” i pointed in the general direction of where he lay (as the emergency vehicle wailed past on the main street.)

“i couldn’t find him,” she said, “he knows he’s not to go any further than our community.  he has alzheimer’s.”  & she backed the car up, turned it around & took off toward where i’d pointed, leaving me standing there (i had thought she might ask me to get in for the ride back up the hill, but i understood her fear & turned to jog after her.)

i made it back up to where dick was, now with firemen standing all around, mary kneeling beside him, rocking him back & forth.  they walked him to her car, put him in it, shut the door & she drove off with her husband.

i never saw him again & once when i waved at mary, she ignored me.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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