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Post #1568 • August 23, 2012, 9:18 AM • 1 Comment

I could live in Northampton. It's a perfect New England college town, vibrant yet sedate, progressive yet quaint. I went there last weekend to spend a few days with Barry Moser, who taught a wood engraving workshop at Zea Mays printmaking. I'm slated to write an article about the experience, so details are forthcoming, but not the ones about my book purchases.

At Broadside Bookshop I splurged for Wendell Berry's New Collected Poems, an expansion of his Collected Poems with more recent works that promises to make this the definitive anthology. At The Raven, which endangers my wallet at every visit, I found a surprisingly good price on the Bal-Constantini Balthus book. Despite my Balthus completism I had been holding off on picking this up. The essays didn't call to me on a cursory read, and most of the images are available in other catalogues, but for the modest amount they wanted I decided it would be worth the interview. They were asking a song for The Gazabos by Edward Honig, and an extra chorus for a French-English copy of Les Fleurs du Mal and Paris Spleen by Baudelaire. Some Daniel Dennett found its way into the bag as well.

I also enjoyed the pleasant company of Annie Bissett, who tells me that Northampton is acquiring a train that will connect it to New York. Hm.

At some point I returned to Boston and looked at my house briefly, I believe, before hopping back in the car and driving down to New York with a car full of work destined for the Governors Island Art Fair. The plan for this morning is to extract my car from a Harlem parking garage, drive to the end of the island, park again somewhere in the financial district, maneuver seventeen small works via hand truck and bungee cords onto the boat, sail past Lady Liberty, and find my exhibition room.

I confess to mixed feelings about the work going up. I'm drawing better than I ever have been, which is something, and using a technique—crow quill and brown ink on hot-press watercolor paper—that doesn't suffer fools. I struggle, though, with the feeling that far better things are further up the road. But this is a disease of criticism, I've decided. The fault-finding and skepticism that work so well for art writing will kill your own work in the cradle. Picking out a four-word mantra seems to help. For the memory training class I taught in July, it was "See That Crazy Picture." For the present situation, it's "Ignore the Sinking Feeling." Life is like boarding a boat that you know is going to sail out to sea and sink, said Shunryu Suzuki. If you'll pardon me, I have a boat to board.

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1.

Chris Rywalt

August 23, 2012, 10:30 AM

I feel I've said this before, but perhaps not to you: Life is less like boarding a boat and more like being kidnapped and thrown onto a boat.

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