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Monday, January 17, 2011

Painting the Muse at FunkBox


FunkBox is in one of those West Village downstair spaces. It's a roomy venue, not large, not tiny. A painting stage in one corner, hides behind a stout brick column which gives a false impression of privacy. Artists feel comfortable doing their work.

It's easy, gazing towards the back of the stage, to imagine we were given an old corner of a large European living room, to do our work. Punchinello clowns, wearing Raven masks, cavorted behind a trompe l'oeil tear in dowdy wall paper, a lived-in corner of forgotten theatre.

Look the other direction onto the dance floor and there are hundreds of gyrating athletes, crowded shoulder to shoulder, taking turns doing full flips, spinning on elbows, hips, knees, sacrum springs. If you can imagine a difficult yoga pose, spun into rapid gyrating motion, then you have an idea of what the dancers at FunkBox are up to.

Our first piece made use of day-glow colors designed to reflect the pulsing black lights that hung above the stage. The painting came alive - the lines seemed to dance as orange, green, blue and pink all alternated with the electronic beat. Niki seemed immersed in a fantastic sea of luminescent weeds floating like a snake, a cat, a whale . . .

Niki's worked with me for years. I direct, she acts, energy from both channels into the painting. At each moment I feel I'm venturing further and further from sanity as I work. I must navigate turns. It's like entering a cave - will I be able to get back out?

The use and choices of colors are absolutely everything, since color ignites the energy of the chakras, reflects. strengthens or represses. Color choices are very difficult. So is all the bending over the floor with the brush. Luckily I've been doing more yoga since my neck injury, and I'm able to bend towards the work in a variation of Parsvottanasana.

After a series - sometimes they have have a ritual or yogic structure, sometimes not, we begin work on poetry. We throw words into a dramatic situation, and then see how they orient themselves, and what they mean. The painting leads to the poetry. Image opens the mind to metaphor.

During this part of the performance the Muse called me "Glorious Doctor", "Brother", "Sponge-faced Madman".  It sounds like she's angry at me for some reason!

Niki was addressed as "Model", "Sister", "Marvelous Blossom", also "Wench"! She refered to my beautiful wife, alternatively in loving and derogatory tones.

If we ask questions, she answers. This time she even requested that I ask her more questions, reminding me that I had called her up with no request. I was so busy preparing for the performance that I forgot to think of things to ask her.


This is serious. The connection will be lost if it is wasted. She's busy. "You called. What do you want. Get to the point!" She seems to shout at me.

She's the Goddess with the razor tongue, the third player on our stage, and the speaker of the poems we invent.

Do we invent them, or does she? The poems keep realigning, refining, and shifting. Her meaning will not compact into a single perspective. She supplies us with infinite dreams.

She's an Oracle.

How do we write these? Do 'we' write these? Ah grasshopper . . . come . . . observe. You may ask questions if you ask politely. But you must remove your shoes if we allow you onto the stage. If not I may have to throw you off!

Who is this voice that alternatively berates, then praises?

I've decided she is the Muse, the original Goddess of Europe, In India she is Shakti-Ma, Shiva's female aspect. She shares qualities of Kali, Putana, Hera, Artemis, Gaia, and the Delphic Oracles. in Greece, after Zeus took the pagan pantheon, the Muse became the Goddess of Poetry. This and other literary and artistic talents, she passed on to her nine granddaughters.

The 'she' personifies her as a force. Personification brings one closer to understanding. Neither science, nor conscious elaboration of quasi-Jungian theories of what the Muse represents can explain clearly what she is about. I'm after what she says, about my work. It's why I do it. I'm hungry for feedback.

I want to thank Melanie Aquirre, and Khahim Johnson for the opportunity to perform at 'Funk Box'.


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