Writing About Art

Entry by: Godai41

5th June 2015
Writing about Art

One may ask what the word art in the title above refers to.

Does this imply one art in particular? Perhaps.

The art of living, then, seems fitting. Is it one of the arts? Chaucer, Shakespeare, Woolf, Faulkner, and others, certainly Rilke, assent.

Move forward with me, if you will, to one couple’s art of living. Suspend your disbelief. In the constructive element immerse.

The husband was an engineer, several decades back, forging the art of living. Working for a firm, he, the chief engineer, searched out or met construction opportunities. He consulted with the three owners of the firm before deciding to take or not take on a project. With their agreement he accepted some, rejected others. Opportunities became jobs: he and the engineering team members prepared bids, won some, lost some. Workers daily voyaged from firm to site, lugging materials, placing them properly, testing and fastening them, returning to the office to report the daily rituals and challenges. The chief engineer skirmished with the owners here and there about selection of jobs, pricing of materials, and much more.

One of the jobs pummeled its way to selection by the firm. The bosses often had to advocate for economy, economy, economy. Pay less; make more. Buildings, some sturdier than others, rose. The roof of one particular job reached into the sky beyond the chief’s consent, even agreement. It had its foibles, among them, that it was composed of bargain ingredients, an unstable roof. It might fall sooner than one imagined. Who knows? The owners assented, yea advocated, economy. After all, the day of the emergence of the building, the opening, they will find themselves too busy to attend. Surely this was not a first in the annals of building. The engineer, triple- teamed, could not triumph or assent.

He left the company, sought new work afar, secure in this act of principle, if not in his pecuniary skills, and surely in his art of living.

His wife managed the home site. She too, however, engineered albeit on a different, also challenging turf. She came to her management position secure enough from her raw training to handle if not steady the daily trembling of the home “office.” Not so many years before, nearly isolated during the last trek of a subway’s route she fought off if not scared off the sexual assault efforts of one of the few riders remaining in the car. That internship followed hard upon the sudden, vastly premature, at age 26, death from an incurable infection of her younger, yes favorite, brother.

Those latter days, following her husband’s daily departure, she seasoned and savored life three ways: sleeping, reading, cooking. Sleep here deemed itself a necessity, not a mere option. Dreams, darkness, and emptiness fulfilled the home manager’s demands. Unseen for hour after hour by anyone, through her three friends, dreams, darkness, and emptiness, she vacated—but did not forget—her raw life-internship epoch.

Awake, she read. Emotionally unable or unwilling to pace the streets to the local library, each week or two in the evening she assembled the family for the short drive and hurried them past the Librarian’s desk to the shelves. As well read as the Librarian herself she displayed for the family narratives by Paul Gallico, Thomas Wolfe, O’Henry, Shakespeare too, and without doubt her reading passion, flavorful narratives of the uncivil North American Civil War. These of course followed the intriguing dinners she prepared for all.

Unschooled in cooking, she invented her own collage meals. Despite a generation enrolled in cooking via canned lessons she brought forth very uncanny, even witty combinations of home made pastas in innumerable shapes in a mosaic of sauces, some learned through window chats with the Italian-born next door neighbor. Egg salad with an alluring texture and exotic flavor shamed the town diner’s version. Meats of all sorts she selected through one-on-one interviews behind the closed doors of the butcher’s domain while shopping in the then-new grocery stores. She and the food in process conversed as she prepared it.

She spent most if not all the daylight hours inside; there her artistic self devoured life.

Before departing her relatively brief (53-year) stay, during visits to former plantation sites in the southern United States she drew crowds who hearing her evoke events and people who once lived there frequently mistook her for the official tour guide.

After his wife died the engineer, attuned and committed to living vigorously, at age 60 flew to Mexico to try out parachuting for the first time. The manikins at the suburban clothing store missed him intensely, as he had always dropped dime handouts into their outstretched plastic palms, causing those nearby to enjoy a fervent laugh.

Eschewing words, both husband and wife wrote lives of art.