Blog Project Day 73: La Bella Luna
View of rising earth about five degrees above the Lunar horizon. Photo from NASA collection.
A moonless night. The stars pop against the velvet sky like candy, though Orion is strangely absent. (I suspect he’s lazing around somewhere in P-town, but I’ve no proof.) Every now and again a slash of cloud, like celestial exhaust, which doesn’t sound at all as pretty as it actually looks. Tonight I am dreaming of a change in perspective: to look down at the earth instead of up at the moon.
Creative collisions with two artists tonight. I made a donation to the Montgomery County Arts Council and was invited to a donor event, a slide talk by Greg Mort whose watercolors and oils are hanging in the gallery at the Civic Center with his son Jon‘s large-scale graphite drawings. It is curious that the moon is absent tonight as she was much in conversation. Greg is a NASA-commissioned artist, and after capturing shuttle launches and painting astronauts, the solar system has now crept into his non-NASA work, so a crescent moon hovers over a teacup and the full moon shows up as a glacial deposit on a Maine beach.
Jon, for this particular show, has inverted myth, so Atalanta is happy to be caught, and Atlas is a beautiful young woman who balances a starry earth easy as if she’s holding up a beach ball. When I marvel at the textures he’s created with pencil, he gives me a scientific explanation for what happens when one layer of minuscule graphite plates is layered over another to produce a certain sheen. I don’t remember the scientific language, only that it sounds like poetry. I’d like to send him two of my poems on myths, but I always wonder if that’s the right thing to do. How are artists allowed to talk to other artists? What’s the protocol? A dancer I interviewed last week is expecting a volume of my poetry but I fell half in love with her as we talked, and I could tell by the way she used her hands and the reverent way she said “collaboration” that it was probably okay. But I’m never quite sure.
I don’t want to offer Greg poetry, but I did give him my card so I can interview him for work. He fits into that space of art-science we keep touching back to, and there is something important in the fact that NASA has paid composers and poets and painters to document its work. Earlier in the evening, as I said hello the arts council staff, I made a point of making it clear that I was there as a Silver Spring artist who had made a donation as an artist and citizen of Montgomery County. Still when they introduced me to the Board chair and president-elect, they mentioned my work affiliation, and I understand that currency, that weight. And I am guilty myself of blurring that line , business cards always at the ready if I meet an interesting artist—like Greg—to interview at an off-hours event. It is a complicated desire: to want an artist as a friend-collaborator and as a subject, and, of course, I am always falling in crush with my subjects. Perhaps when the moon returns, she’ll rise brimming with wisdom…