Monday, March 30, 2009

catharsis, new ideas and glitter

Some parts of this weekend sucked (thank you, reproductive cycle! You are why our new towel rack is still on the floor, just staring wistfully up at the towel-rack part of the wall). But it got off to a great start when I met with AK’s coworker Hataya’s guy Sergio (got that?) about collaborating on some kind of text/visual art thing.

As you may remember, I have a love/hate relationship with collaboration. At CalArts, I participated in this project called “Blind Date,” wherein a bunch of writers were given works by people in the art department and asked to respond creatively, and vice versa. I got to write about a sculpture I remember as silver, loopy and about knee-high. It was cool-looking, but it did not bring forth great emotion in me. So I wrote some trippy, abstract prose poem in response.

But even though my meeting at Vroman’s with Sergio was also something of a blind art date, I have to say I was totally smitten. He’d read a couple of my stories and I’d gotten a chance to check out his website, and we had this geeky, sheepish moment where we confessed: I kind of think you write how I paint! I kind of think you paint how I write!

Then we talked about movies and L.A. and process for like an hour, and I paged through pen-and-ink drawings of Spain and Tijuana and Hataya in his sketchbooks. He told me that he can’t paint anyone he doesn’t know, which makes commissions hard—especially one he got for a wiener dog named Lucy.

I usually like talking about process stuff with writers, but sometimes I stress out and compare myself to them too much. Or it’s just too familiar, like, yeah, I know exactly what combing through draft three for structure problems is like. But talking to artists in other disciplines provides just the right balance of catharsis and new ideas.

We’re not sure what the collaboration will look like yet—we’re going to start by passing a sketchbook back and forth and filling it with words and pictures. Not to get all CalArtian, but I’m thinking that whatever I write has to take advantage of the fact that I’ll be working in a more physical (less digital) space than usual.

I did some writing by hand in the sketchbook this morning. I doodled a girl on a trapeze because in my laptop-writing life I’m working on a novel about the circus (more on this later, perhaps—for now I’ll just say that it’s really fun and the result is a giant mess). Next time I think I might paint with nail polish on the borders of the page. It’s been way too long since I put glitter polish on anything other than my nails.


the last noel said...

Thanks for turning me onto Sergio's work. Pretty stunning.

Cheryl said...


Jamie Asaye FitzGerald said...

Sounds like fertile territory. I love Sergio's shrine paintings.

Cheryl said...

Me too. They inspired my first sketchbook writing.

Courtney Parker said...

So you are going to CalArts or went to CalArts? I'm guessing you were in the MFA Writing program? I'm thinking of applying, but it's VERY expensive, and I'm looking for as much feedback as possible about the school/program/environment. If you don't mind, can I get your opinion on it??

Cheryl said...

Hey Courtney, I just wrote you a long email about CalArts and then realized it went to a no-reply address (I think). D'oh! Anyway, I'd be happy to list the pros and cons of CalArts if you email me: cheryl_e_klein[at]