The other day I went to see a play at the Irish Art Center that completely blew me away. I was invited to the play because a few weeks ago I did a collaborative mural workshop with kids from the Police Athletic League for the Irish Art Center (IAC) and it was a blast. The IAC is a theater and cultural center that is a divinely inspired concentration of all things Ireland located in hells kitchen. But I digress, as a generous thank you for the workshop, the amazing crew at the Irish Art Center invited me to the opening of a one man play they were hosting entitled “Silent”, written and performed by Pat Kinevane with Fishamble: The New Play Company. Now I fully expected that the play would be great, the Irish do have an extremely rich and diverse pool of talented artist, everybody knows that. But what I did not expect was to be taken on a trip that would move me so deeply that it hit me at a molecular level. Pat Kinevane’s performance of Tino Mc Goldrich, a homeless man from County Cork was like experiencing a living painting, a painting constantly in the process of creating and un-creating itself just as we are created and uncreated by our own life experiences. “Silent” is equally beautiful, tragic, hilarious and oh so very real. Blew my mind. The after party for the play was held on a terrace over 50 stories up high in the Manhattan skyline, it was an epic view that would inspire the most jaded New Yorker. Against this colossal urban backdrop I had a quick meet and chat with Pat Kinevan who is as sweet and generous in person as he is talented and intense on stage. The fact that he could be so open and grounded with everyone after giving such an intense performance says a lot about this guy, he’s “good people”. It is just after sun down now and the NY skyline begins to light up like some kind of urban constellation, everyone is mixing and mingling as I spark up a chat with a funny young Irish dude named Moley. Turns out that Moley and his brother Owen make music and together form a duo called size2shoes. After a bit of prodding they bless us with two impromptu songs that frickin mesmerized me! These two easy going Irish brothers vocalize in a combination of human beat box, Gregorian Chants, Rap and Pop, these boys are Fierce! I have always had a thing for Gregorian Chants but these two brothers bring it to a whole other place. At this point I’m floating, first the play that left me speechless followed by an evening of meeting, cocktailing, music and chatting with some fantastic Irish folks. I figure its time to call it a perfect night so I float on outa there heading for home.
Heading down 2nd avenue with my mind blown and I’m rolling a cigarette as I make a beeline for the 4 line. I turn onto 50th street when the sound of a man singing pricks up my ears. The sound and timber of his voice is unique, but its strangely familiar to me with a grainy quality like it is floating in from some other time. Instantly I am caught in a Vulcan-time-warp, you know those moments when a sound, a smell, or a visual puts you somewhere else and you find that you are lost and caught in between two memories. In this moment you know that your feet are firmly planted in two places in time, like a double exposed photo with one image layered into the other. But this sound, this voice it literally pulls me across the street to its source. As I get closer I recognize the music is a jazz standard, the voice pauses in song and says, “Good evening Nubian Goddess come in, join us”. Still rolling my cigarette and caught up in my Vulcan-time-warp, I do not see the source of the voice so I don’t respond but I notice that I am now standing under the wide open windows of a beautiful little bar, all amber and candle lit inside. Music is still playing and I finally respond to the voice from beyond with a smile but I still can’t see its source when the voice again says, “Come in Nubian Goddess, don’t be shy, come in and join us for a glass of wine”.
As I enter Sofia Wine Bar, the room is intimate, warm and lit only by candles on the tables that combine with the street lights shining in from the open windows to bath the room in a golden amber hue. With a big smile and open arms, Richie Q greets me at the door and introduces me to everyone in the small room and again I find myself surrounded by strangers, who are not so strange at all, who treat me like friends. The bartender brings a glass of wine and I join a table of Richie’s friends, Tony Middleton (the lead singer of the Willows) his agent Phyllis and another friend Ina who tease me lightheartedly telling me that I looked like a dear in the headlights, certainly that was how I felt, all caught up in my Vulcan-time-warp. Richie launches into another song and a couple gets up to dance in the small space between the tables. Richie Q is a real musician and a real gentleman, back in the day he sang with a doo-wop group called the Chaperones and still makes his living making music. With each song, he plays a different instrument; he even sang me a Bob Marley tune in honor of my homeland Jamaica. The last song of the night was a duet with Tony Middleton such resonant voices, such class. Listening to them I am once again carried off to another time.
Yet again, I’m heading home with my mind now blown to the 3rd power and I’m back en route to the
4 train. As I’m trucking down Lexington Ave, a huge white bus pulls up and I watch as a group of well-dressed folks begin to disembark, with the sight of the bride I realize it’s a wedding party. As they get off of the bus the bride and groom are all aglow as brides and grooms always are and they are striking together. Its obvious that these two are completely un-encumbered by anybodies dictates as to who they should love based on the color of their skins, the fact that he is black and she is white is irrelevant to their connection to each other. They remind me that love is a rare and unique thing that holds no confines, it lives by no ones rules and it thrives. More inspiration on this night from two more “strangers” who are not so strange at all.
Continuing up Lexington Ave now and just a door away from the entrance to the 4 Train. As I glance left I see a man asleep on a marble slap in front of a vacant store. He is in fetal position deeply asleep, hands tucked between his legs above the knee and lying on a thin piece of cardboard oblivious to the movements of the city streets at his back, he seems so vulnerable. Seeing him brings me back to the beginning of the day to Pat Kinevane’s play Silent, it brings me to wonder about this sleeping man.
Questions rush in, who is he, who does he love, where is his family, is someone looking for him, someone must be missing him, why, why is he sleeping here? Compassion rushes in and I wish peace for him, I wish a home for him, I wish love and protection for him. As I mark the end of my mind-blowing night, thoughts swell in my head and swirl in my heart. These thoughts dwell on giving thanks for strangers made into friends and they dwell on feelings of pure compassion. I wish that I could help him but I don’t know how, I don’t know how to tell him that even though we are strangers we are not so strange at all, so I send up a silent prayer for him. I send up a silent prayer.
Seems that in my current financial situation, I have sadly fallen into the tragic stereo type of the artist…straight-up broke, eatin dry bread sandwiches and one cent short of a penny but oh so prolific in my studio work and fully invested in the business of my art, luckily for me inspiration is always free!
The other day as I was “cleaning up” my studio that tragically is beginning to look like a cross between Francis Bacon’s studio and an episode of Hoarders. In this clean-up I found a file of old essays that I wrote back in 2007 while I was stuck in my 4th floor walk-up with a broken foot, broken by the way, 5 hours before my flight from India back to Brooklyn. Anywhoo, I found these two paragraphs from my 2007 essay entitled The Journey that made me laugh and I though it an interesting window into the loopy mind of the artist, well into the loopy mind of me, and it went like this.
“ The older I get, the more crazy, twisted, self loathing, and angry I become.
What a freakin head case! I always said that I would never have a painter as a boyfriend because male painters unlike we female painters are completely unhinged. Umhmm.
Truth is, the boys ain’t no different from the girls. We are all crazy-assed,
motha-@!cking pigment pushers with more emotion than sense. We live wide open, feeling every dang thing from the sound of a dew drop or a gun shot to the tsunami happening 10 years from now on the other side of the earth.
At different moments we think that we are both Christ and anti-Christ,
that we are beyond redemption and think that nothing can save us but the process. Trifling! As my friend R always says "u a pain in yo own ass". True...so true. We are all Unhinged! Both atheist and devout believer we are always looking for some form of catharsis, an epiphany or some form of redemption. Really, who can keep up with all that? No one wants to ride on this long assed crazy-train. Well some do, you masochists know who you are, bless your sweet hearts. So for all of you art-lovers out there, I’ve been thinking of starting a dating web site for artists, I’de call it Creative People Meet and my profile page would read something like this: Extremely talented, self employed slightly unhinged 40 something Jamaican artist with a broke foot, and broke with one cent short of a penny, prone to bouts of uncontrolled laughter and sarcasm, battling nicotine addiction, and who hasn’t had a good lay in over a decade, looking for
the perfect man ~ painters need not apply.”
I am interested to know how your profile page would read on my new (make-believe) artist dating web site tentatively called
Creative People Meet, feel free to post them in the comments section.
Remember folks, laughter is the answer, and laughter is sweet!!
Peace ya’ll! P
Making paper from recycled materials, then making sculptures that serve as molds to (relief) sculpt the paper that I just made from recycled material. Yet another cycle found in the creative process that brings me Rare Joy! The images from my studio that you see below illustrate some of this process and It is... all about the process which in and of itself creates imagery that inspires and pushes me further. A box of natural elements, shells, stones, cinnamon sticks, Buddha heads.
The paper making screens that I made from recycled items in my studio, made em cause I couldn't afford to buy them and
they are working well...Just poured the pulp into the screen and need the Buddha heads to float them in the water vat....perfect boiancy, everything comes together. After using my printing plates to "relief" the paper for a while I decided that it was time to sculpt some images to use as relief molds for the paper moving forward. Images to sculpt have been floating around in my head for a while so the first one to come out is entitled "A Face" the features are strong, lips full, high cheekbones, thick/wooley hair ...funny it looks just like a beautiful Jamaican. To create a face from memory seems somehow easier when working with clay from the river bed, always a discovery to see what face is shining out at you when it is complete, the clay is dry and the rest of the world comes back into focus...Whats next to sculpt? Perhaps a figure, man ,woman, a plant, a self portrait? Possibilities endless.
Now that you have seen some of the tools that I am using in studio, onward to share with you some new works that I created with em' ~ Hand made hand molded paper with acrylic, wood, sand and mixed media. The working title is PaperWorks By Hand, this series has many incarnations, some are illustrated in the selection of photos below, 2D relief, mixed media works, 3d mixed media, suspended sculptural works and relief stationary. Really still workin it all out and allowing myself pure moments of exploration..on a complete discovery here and wanting to make even bigger paper for even bigger sculptural installations...I just caint stop. I encourage you to allow yourself Rare Joy by indulging in as many pure moments of exploration as possible.
And now, time to share the paintings in progress, these larger works are a continuation of the Constructed~Deconstructed series that can be viewed on the Works 2012 page on my wedsite .These paintings are years in the making and are created with acrylic and mixed media on canvas, collaged with paintings, drawings, text ,fabric etc.. all re-appropriated from segments of my older paintings, drawings, prints, text; artifacts from my creative life which is my whole life I guess.. incorporating the new hand made paper and the new mono and intaglio prints into these paintings is the next layer to be added.. one or more smaller installations have to be incorporated somewhere in here as well, taking my time. Making these works is sorta like growing plants, they need the correct balance of light, dark, air, time and sustenance to grow, perhaps I can complete one of these in the next decade or so...sigh. Because my art speaks in pictures, and the process holds such relevance, metaphors are inevitable so here's one...The act of constructing new images by deconstructing old images seems a sage act somehow, like documenting a catharsis.
Doctor Bird and the Hibiscus Mixed media mono prints series ©Pamella Allen 2012
Looks like its time to edit some prints, these mixed media mono prints on rice paper all derive from a lino-cut that I recently adjusted.
The original lino-cut was a Hibiscus plant, the national flower of my homeland Jamaica. The 50th year of independence just passed, and it made me think (as I often do) of my parents who grew up in an Jamaican colony controlled by the British Monarchy, what that must have been like, and how brave they were to come here to the US over 40 years ago to begin a new life for us. With thoughts of the strength and beauty of my people and our striving to survive in freedom, I felt compelled to create an image of the Doctor Bird, a beautiful hummingbird and Jamaica's national bird. I added to the Hibiscus a sketch of the Doctor Bird in flight as it was just about to go into the heart of the flower to drink its precious nectar, carved it into the lino and got to printing, needless to say I went a bit overboard with the printing and now have quite a bit of editing and framing to do but hey....that's showbiz...
For me, the image of the Doctor Bird and the Hibiscus represent Beauty, Strength, Balance, Fragility, Flight and Freedom.
Freedom & Flight...Yea...On that lovely note, I bid you farewell for now. Thanks for hangin here for a bit and checking out whats happening in my studio. Enjoy the Big Beautiful Blue Moon...Namaste P