Musings #26

“Image and Word: Art and Poetry in Conversation” – this event was put on by the Louisville Center for the Arts on Saturday, August 16th in Old Town Louisville, Colorado. What an evening of talent, creativity, and inspiration!

This is how it worked. The first artist did a painting. A jpg of it was sent to the first poet. That poet’s poem, inspired by the painting, was sent to the second artist, who then did a painting, and so on, until there were six paintings and six poems to be unveiled and read at the show.

This event illustrates how a painting uses pigment, and a poem uses words, to the same end. Both create images that evoke meaning, mood and emotion. It was fascinating to see how the colors from the first painting threaded through all the works, and how ideas transformed from one artist to another.

A still life of a copper pot, yellow cup, and wine bottle – two men (one with a blue eye) sitting opposite one another at a table in a café in Paris – an effervescent return to light and color in the form of eyes, bubbles, one-celled creatures – a pear, male and female, and the word GOD – the Goddess – antiquity and shadows on cave walls of women carrying water vessels on their heads – a painting that inspired a poem about the Lone Ranger, and finally – the rich plum and burgundy of wine, a pale green horse, a moon-faced rider, studded leather and hi ho! quicksilver.

As I sat there, ideas for poems that I might write, inspired by the paintings, sprang to mind. And just as I marveled at what each artist took from the painting or poem she/he worked with, I imagine that multiple poets would write different but complementary poems about the exact same painting. And likewise, multiple painters would paint different but complementary paintings inspired by a single poem. What feeling or idea waits inside each of us to be triggered up to the surface and take its form in art?

The painters were Chuck Ceraso, Jimmy Sellars, Priscilla Fowler, Jennifer Parisi, Linda Armantrout, Gayle Crites, and Monika Edgar. The poets were Susan Allspaw Pomeroy, Maria Melendez Kelson, Lisa Zimmerman, Bill Tremblay, Aaron Anstett, Joseph Hutchinson, Jared Smith and Kathleen Cain.

I hope Image and Word becomes an annual event, and I hope to have the privilege of being one of the poets to be inspired by a visual artist’s painting.