tracks in the snow
Six inches of snow in the night. Cold, dry ice crystals make the slightest incline slippery. I went out to take seeds to the birds and slipped every step. Took a walking stick to feed the donkeys. Jenny wanted to smell it, feel it with her lips, take it with her teeth, thinking it might be something to eat, the handle the size of a carrot. I've carried a stick among them enough for them to know the stick is not a threat. I don't hit them or threaten them with it. It's for my balance. The donkeys stayed in their den until I went out to deliver their morning hay. Snow on the ground shows me the exact spot in the stream they go to for a drink of water. Later in the day I looked at their meadow from the road, saw the trails to and from the watering hole. They walk on trails. The meadow has trails going every which way. I find it curious so many of the four-leggeds walk the same path until it becomes a trail and remains a trail from then on. In the years I went on long walks through mountain forest, I walked on deer trails. It doesn't take long to find one. The other animals use their trails too. I've seen cows make trails, and now am seeing donkeys make trails. I wonder about trails in their original habitat, northeastern Africa, and see them everywhere. I think there are five hundred, more or less, of the original donkeys left. The people there eat donkeys and live in post-colonial poverty. The donkeys will last about as long as the mountain gorilla, the African elephant, the polar bear, the fish in the sea. It won't be long before the humans have a chance to learn how to exist on a dead planet, the ideal we've been aiming toward collectively throughout my lifetime. It's not just the corporate fisheries emptying the oceans, it's also the people eating fish in restaurants all over the globe and at home. Me, when I buy a tin of sardines.
My mind has relaxed from the rush of visualizing construction of the new project. I've written about the construction itself, though have not yet mentioned purpose. The construction is a three-legged stand to suspend a rock above the ground. Initially, the three sticks of wood were the aesthetic consideration without the rock. I wanted to lean three lines together such that they would hold each other upright without supports or any kind of hardware. Three boards, two notches, done. Ideally, in a place it would never be touched or swiped by a dog's tail. My test was to stand three lengths of wood in relation to each other, supporting each other. It has to do with a present fascination with triangles. Every way I look at this model, all the way around it, it makes triangles. The white line that holds the elements together, itself makes a triangle. All the way around it I see three triangles, including the white line. I don't care if someone looking at it fails to notice the triangles, which are there for aesthetic structure of my own, it's purpose, it's reason for being. A lot of people get through their lives without understanding the meaning of life. In like manner, some will see the triangles a theme, some will not. The rock is there for the weight, to keep a tension in the single line of quarter inch white nylon rope that holds the legs in place, to pull the three boards tighter together, an assist to free-standing, the downward pull of gravity. The rock's role is purely functional. A bowling ball would do. But I like a rock better. The rock becomes the focus of interest framed by the stand that holds it aloft. Since living in the mountains, I have come to see every rock, itself, a piece of sculpture made by God, by way of chance and experience, Like snowflakes, no two are alike, even gravel in a driveway, big rocks dynamited from a bigger rock, ground by rock-crushing machines into small chunks.
In my own personal symbolism, I think of a straight line, a square, masculine, and a curved line, a circle, feminine. For several years I painted round things in square and rectangular frames. Balance. I mean masculine and feminine like in languages, le and la, I think of a triangle the blend of a square and a circle, the child of the square and circle, a balance of both. First, there was one, then there were two, and from three onward it's infinite. Three represents the many. In this construction I'll call Hanging Rock, the straight lines of the boards and rope make a network of masculine lines to frame and support the feminine, the rock, Mother Earth. I think of lines as mind, the conscious mind, and the rock the subconscious mind, feeling, intuition. The mechanics of this project is the masculine aspect, cut, measured and fitted together by mind. The suspended rock I'll call the subconscious, the force holding conscious mind together, the feminine, gives shape and definition. Therein I find the balance of masculine and feminine, le and la, in a simple object of rock and wood. Therein is what I'm saying in the piece, balance, the feminine and masculine, the yin and yang, interdependent, one whole. My first consideration for something outside where several people will see it, is to make it as interesting to a man's eye as to a woman's eye. Call something art and the men in the world I live in pay it no mind, see it without seeing it. The women will give it a chance and look at it aesthetically, liking it or not, say, Somebody might call it art, but I don't see no art about it. I want both the man's eye to see it and the woman's eye to see it. They will see what they see, art or not art, but they will see It, call it what you want. Calling it Hanging Rock will relax the mystery of what it is. It is what it is. Plain.
jack and jenny, yin and yang
My feeling is the masculine eye will see the mechanics of it, all the mechanics out in the open, part of it. I feel like the man's eye will see the boards, treated 4x4s, familiar, masculine, as well as the way the rope holds the thing together and suspends the rock. The rock will be familiar to the masculine eye. No what-is-it mystery about it. It's three boards, a rock and a rope. I feel like the feminine eye will see the whole without much interest in the mechanics. And women appreciate rocks, largely, in aesthetic ways men largely don't see. The rock suspended provides a point of tension for everybody. It's a subconscious feeling that a rock does not belong in the air. A rock belongs on the ground. A suspended rock plays with the automatic assumption from a lifetime of experience that a rock belongs on the ground. If someone were to ask me what it's supposed to be, I'll only be able to answer, it is what it is---three boards, a rock and a rope. My feeling is kids will like it. I gave one of my favorite paintings to the library, red, yellow and green bell peppers, asking them to hang it in the children's section. I wanted the kids to see it. I like for kids to like my paintings. A kid liking it tells me it's real. My first clue it is attractive to the masculine eye was Justin liking it, taking an interest in the mechanics right away, raising and lowering the rock, getting a sense for how it works. Aesthetically, it's cool with him if I want to call it art. I can call it anything I like. He'll call it three 4x4s, a rock and a rope, which is how I want him to see it---it is what it is. There is nothing it is supposed to be. To my eye, it is triangles and a suspended rock, what it is. I wanted it to say something about the mountains. That it simply is what it is, not pretending to be something it aint, just plain, is mountain as a fiddle tune.
shadow on the snow