07 December 2019

Update December 2019

2019 year-end review:
Solo Exhibits at OutCenter of Southwest Michigan/Benton Harbor and Gallery 22 North, Ypsilanti as fund-raisers fo OutCenter and Equality Michigan. See entire selection of paintings and price list here. "Blue Chair Triptych" chosen for annual show of paintings at Ann Arbor Art Center's "ArtNow 2019. A slide show of paintings 2014-2019 here.

The Dance of the Paint: Thoughts on an Interdisciplinary Practice (password: UNA) presented at National Autonomous University/Costa Rica.
The Rise of the Screen People (password: screen people) and Bodies Among the Ruins presented at University of Rochester/Dance.

I finished the 24 short screendances for my take on Schubert's final song cycle, Winterreise and am in the process of booking its screening alongside live performers. 
I continue to experiment with combining figure (shot against greenscreen) with my painted landscapes:
Acrylic Worlds (This compilation includes Clonal Renderings: Duet for One featuring Michael Trusnovec. It was accepted into festivals: Oaxaca Film Festivl, ADF's "Movies by Movers", Screendance International/Detroit, and Lisbon's InShadow Festival. 
Andantino doucement expressif:password : faun
Sonnet 129
host images, traces, optical tricks, and the transitory pleasures of seeing: 
Life Studies (Traces of a Solitary Presence)  password: September
The Waiting Room 
Seven Elegies

anuscript of my memoir, Confessions of a Dancing Man, in consideration. Here's a sneak preview of the Prologue:


A man takes a walk around the block.  He really takes it. He possesses it, because he needs it, because it has become a habit.

It’s become a late afternoon habit over the past ten years or so: a route of two loops conjoined along the seam of their street, with one loop east down Walter Drive then north through the public walkway between the fenced-in backyards and onto the wide-open elementary school playground. The sudden expanse always comes as a relief, opening a space across his chest. He faces west towards an acre of oaks rising black and gnarled against the bright but lowering April sky. This is the same canopy that fans high over their own backyard, the thick trunks rising up like the spiraling columns of his favorite cathedral in Paris and splayed into many-fingered crowns. The old oaks stand there like dancers just past their prime, wearing their age well, grounded yet supremely earnest in their vertical aspirations. 

He follows the sidewalk that cuts through the vacant playground and divides the oak preserve then turns south down two blocks and loops east again past the single-level ranches: houses cedar-shingled or now sided with the latest vinyl product, clones like their own home built in the expansion of developments pressing outwards from campus 55 years ago. A boom-time subdivision cut from the surviving woodlands northwest of town, Tree Town, university town, Ann Arbor. 

He walks, mindful of the swing of his gait, marking as well the rhythm of passing facades: faces of houses that never turn as he passes, and sometimes he turns instead to face one of them, an audacious act, he thinks, and he tries to see its features for what they are and at the same time read them for signs of what is inside. 

A rhythm, yes, and that is how he really takes the walk. He is both horse and rider, a walking machine, an engineer tending to his instrument, a driver to his vehicle, an aging chassis on joints, springs, pistons and pulleys. He’s a puppet and puppeteer, all rigged and trussed up, negotiating a hard-won dancer’s grace as he breaks down into little feeble bits, the rusty seams loosening and giving out, one by one. 

He passes the houses, and looks down to the shadow cast ahead of him onto the concrete squares as they pass under.  He recognizes a semblance of himself, a loping figure with the ears of his bomber cap flapping like Goofy. He feels he is hitting a stride: traces the sideways sway, a Mobius strip around his hips, through his femoral sockets looped around the pelvic lobes, back across his buttocks and crossed under his crotch, up under his navel and his seat lifted as in a sling.  Forty-four years of dancing, of learning to walk like a dancer, or walking suspended along streets and corridors and through airports on invisible strings to lift himself out of pain and soreness from hours of rehearsing, classes, performances. He hears his sitting bones cheer him on:   “Pelvic floor! Pelvic floor!”  He adds his latest mantra: “Engage the core!” and he falls into a sing-song rhythm with his loping stride.

He remembers his sex. Does he take his walks to remember his sex? Only partly, he thinks, as he presses his chest forward and feels it grow alert, his cotton knit shirt pulling taut under his sweater and parting the space in front of him. And he tries to connect sex with sex and the thought of his life passing by, the times he took it and lost it and ached for it, and tried not to be too confused by it, and how maybe that’s what this embodiment thing is, this confidence and coming into one’s own that he has spent all day praising and prodding and provoking in his dance students, all growing into their lovely dancing bodies. And he remembers being their age, and how he had been so late at discovering his own sex, he had been so afraid, and despite that, he had stayed with it and had become a respected modern dancer in New York and he had loved and married and fucked a storm and had his heart broken and had finally come out and had touched great fame and pleasure and sadness and loss and lived the only dream of his life which was to find beauty and live it, to hold onto it for dear life and make it his most serious habit. 

When did this walking become a habit, then? He ponders going on the uphill stretch of the second loop along the sidewalks, no woods on this side, just more houses.  He reminds himself to suspend the scroll of his ears curled under the skull upwards like the neck of his violin and to drop back down along the spine and under the tail the long supple cord that remains taut yet supple like a violin string humming or a beautifully strung bow. 

He had read the night before while soaking in the hot bath how the aerospace engineers built laboratories on wheels or high-tech go-carts to be dropped down like puppets on strings from hovering modules onto the floor of Mars. He walks with this in mind, and sees himself on Mars, or like the man leaning into or out of his own shadow in the painting by Francis Bacon of a copy of the Van Gogh walking man, which proves that great art can come from great art, that a copy or loving homage awakens the artist’s empathies for past great beauty and cracks into him with great force, producing yet more great beauty. Beauty begets beauty, he thinks. 

“So will I just keep this walking up, week after week, and will the neighbors begin to wonder, or are they used to me by now?”  He wonders if they even notice him walking like this in front of their houses on late afternoons, sunglasses and bomber cap, usually in black. Wide strides… a man who looks like he is thinking about something, or aware of his stride, oddly self-conscious yet with a certain elevated ease, a rhythmic loop the seems to propel him forwards, yet he stands so straight. Do they think he’s a child molester, a nutcase, some local eccentric? He no longer imagines he is invisible, as he sometimes did when he was a child. Someone must notice, but then there is a great relief in remaining anonymous, even if he has lived in the neighborhood for the past 27 years. 

What would a neighbor he did not know think (as if it even mattered), this man walking the sidewalk night after night, just before dusk… if a person behind some picture window figured out who he was, that he was that dancer in their neighborhood who worked at the university and who was walking more often now that he was no longer dancing but still needed to animate himself, to feel he was alive inside and that all the parts were still working and that he needed to remember his sex and that it made him think clearly, that it gave him space to think and a rhythm, a stride, things to look at or imagine or to read for signs, from one day to the next, some things to appreciate just as they were, just there, visible… and at the same time the strange interplay of the familiar, the habitual, the anticipated, with what he was seeing or feeling or thinking for maybe the first time?

He had always walked and thought and remembered. He remembers the sidewalks in front of the motel in Fort Lauderdale, 1953, soon after he had just learned to walk, The blinding daylight that was his first memory ever, on a vacation with his parents and older brother, Bobby: He’s barely two, and he sees sunlight never before that bright filtering through the pattern on the motel room curtain while he’s being put down for a nap. There’s a sidewalk along a strip of motel rooms, lined in deep foliage and bright pink flowers, slatted shutters on windows, and immaculate gardens along low brick walls. He views it all from a toddler’s vantage point, and he’s swooning in light. If this really never happened, then where does it come from? Some composite of vintage dream footage, like a spliced together home movie looping down and up the brain stem onto a reel labeled “First Memories”?  

It’s difficult to trust it, when he can also remember stuffing a pillow out the airplane window on that same trip. Such things happened only in dreams, even in the day of prop planes. But he must begin somewhere and claim a first foothold along a path that promises continuity, or a story, even if it is rudely interrupted or lacking clarity at times.  Will he trust the details, the momentum, the evidence culled from his trove of photographs and snapshots, and his responses to people and places?  Is it those responses that created the impressions he remembers, or did the impressions provoke the responses? And is it in the way he had always assumed as his own those impressions and responses that he now sees he is the same person that he always was, as when taking his first steps into the Florida daylight? His life accordions out behind him and projects ahead, frame opening into larger frame. Is such insight earned in retrospect the way a sudden awareness of one’s depth perception unflattens the world and unfolds it into foreground then one thing behind the other and the other into an ever-diminishing landscape? He recalls that moment, while lying under the starry sky on a grassy hill near Traverse City, Michigan, when the constellations suddenly uncoupled from their flat diagram of connect the dots and zoomed light years towards his reclining body or back away into the black void.  Does he carry in him some kind of moral or aesthetic compass as well, one carried in his DNA or forged so early that he can never remember any other way of making choices and of navigating through an increasingly complex and multi-dimensional world? 

Turning onto Walter Drive again from the east end on his last loop around, he remembers the dappled sidewalks of his childhood in northwest Detroit under the newly leafed elms on Longacre, 1957. He is squinting downwards to mentally transport himself to their summer cottage along terraced avenues winding up from Little Traverse Bay. Or along dusty paths under the pines at Interlochen Arts Academy, 1968, then to Manhattan’s Upper West Side and down Broadway or Columbus (if he was feeling brave) to walk to Juilliard to save the subway fare or to the ballet studio above Zabar’s or the unemployment office on West 90th or to the theaters on Broadway or at Lincoln Center. Or to theaters and sidewalks in Leningrad or London, Saigon, Rangoon, Rome or Paris, Lisbon, Melbourne… and back again to Michigan, where he now walks the shortcuts between the university buildings to the parking structure to drive home, to then put on his sun glasses and wool-lined cap and baggy jeans to pace the conjoined loops of his neighborhood, alone, no one else in sight. 

He remembers how, as a first grader, he looked around at his classmates at story hour in the library and contemplated the shelves and spaces carved out in his own mind, and reckoned he thought about things more than anyone else in the room. Now that he has lived this much and has taken up this walking as a habit, he finds himself thinking and remembering until he quickens his pace on the last leg home in order to sit again at his laptop to begin to write it all down. This story is what he remembers on his walks and on all the walks that he can remember and everything that came between.