I've lived in Pittsburgh all my life and somehow it still manages to surprise me. Yesterday I went on a self-guided tour of downtown viewing various public art displays that can easily be found in the city. This particular tour led us around the cultural district where we saw sculptures, light installations, and two story tall murals among others (slide show below). I was surprised at how much I had not seen already, or would not have otherwise noticed had I not been forced to notice by way of this tour. Once my eyes were opened, I saw other public art including graffiti, posters, art galleries and metal sculptures. In the tour book there was a quote from one of the artists, Sol DeWitt, about the role of artists in society:
“Artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.”
I find this statement reflective of the process I experience with writing. Connections are a big part of what I spend time contemplating. I think constantly about life and relationships. The relationships between people and themselves, their peers, their families. Between countries and neighbors. Between feelings and nature. It's quite exhausting sometimes. But what is strange about these leaps is that, in the moment, they feel logical. But I suppose that is an oxymoron. Can something FEEL logical? The leaps are what I've thought about and experienced. Especially in poetry, if I can get into a place where these mystical leaps seem logical, in those moments I make the most fascinating connections. Perhaps the sense of logic is really just me letting go and learning to trust my artistic instincts. I am still letting that quote resonate with me. I think I have more to say about it, but I can't quite figure it out yet.
In response to the urban art walk, I decided to write poems about each piece. I've got a few started already. One mural entitled "Yesterday's Tomorrow" by Brian Holderman depicts a futuristic scene using a limited color palate with almost a 1950's style geometric images. The poem this piece inspired begins:
Blimps are bloated metal
fish, black in the seasky
unzippered office buildings
slip down the slope of a bowl
balanced high, purpled
and filled with future liquid
I've got to do some editing still on this piece, but there was something almost too happy about that mural. Too idealistic. Most pictures of "the future" seem dated to me, like we're still hoping for flying cars and robot maids. I am going somewhere darker with this poem. I am excited to have a series of poems I can work on. It seems like this kind of project is a great way to generate a lot of new work in a short period of time. In the past four days I've started six new poems. I think now that my class is winding down and the school year at work is complete, I will find myself being a more productive writer. I leave for San Francisco in four days. I almost can't believe its finally here.