On November 16th, the Louisville Arts District and Dana V. Music presented the second annual RHYTHM & HUES, a performance art concert and auction. The stage consisted of three easels holding blank canvases, and tables stocked with paints, brushes, water, knives and other tools of the visual artist’s trade. To the side sat musicians playing violin, flute and piano. Members of the audience could bid on the painting in process or at the auction later in the evening. In addition, this year, for the first time, the event included POETRY!
This is how this came about. I had stopped in at Janet Russell’s gallery, Creative Art and Framing. I saw a painting, consisting of turquoise and darker blues covering two-thirds of the canvas, while the remainder was painted a silvery white with delicate yellow and red threads of paint running through it. The painting evoked for me the watery realm of the womb and emergence into the light. When I told Janet this, she immediately thought to include poetry in the event, the themes of which were emergence and voyaging.
During the event, I performed a poem at the start of the first “act,” In Transition for the theme of emergence, and at the start of the second, Still Life with Horse for the theme of voyaging. Then in separate sets, three artists at a time took to the stage. As music filled the room, the artists began to paint. One artist’s long brown, wavy hair swayed as she moved side to side from easel to palette.
Another artist’s muscled arm and shoulder stroked the canvas to the music’s melody and beat. Another ran a black gash down the center of a blue and yellow canvas, then worked with it to make the painting so much more than it otherwise would have been.
As I watched, I thought – I could not read a poem in public that I had just written in a workshop. This is because, for me, writing and editing are part of a synergistic process. For me to not fear the blank page, I have to shut off the mind cop and let the words flow. Then I go back and find the words, the images, the lines that seem to be what the poem wants to be.
I thought of a workshop prompt – use all these random words in a poem – and how such an exercise prompts what has been waiting in the belly to come up and through, spilling on the page.
I thought too of how what seems like a mistake often is a divine accident, a stimulant for creativity. Like the chamois cloth to be used for a medicine shield cut in half in error, and how stitching the pieces together with leather cord brought out the tiger nature to be invoked by the shield. Like the typographical error – omitting the letter “e” from the word feathers – opened up an unconscious level in a poem I was writing.
Most of all, I thought – how right it was to include poetry in such an event. After all, music and visual art communicate stories and evoke emotions. Poetry does that as well. With words, lines and the human voice, poetry combines the rhythm and lyric of music and the colorful imagery of a painting.
These three art forms, together with the event planners’ attention to detail and graceful gestures, combined to create a wonderful evening of community spirit and support for the arts. I am so grateful to have been invited to participate. It is an event not to be missed – by artists and audience alike!