Friday, July 23, 2010

the good thing about teaching art is that whenever you go to google images you get an instant gallery, about a page of any given artist, or even print. if you google abstract, you get a variety; if you google campbell's soup can, you get lots of varieties. if you youtube these guys, you get movies whose sole purpose is putting an art slide show along with a piece of classical music, and you have to wade for a while before you find one that actually has a lecture, or people speaking, which is what i need.

today's lesson was given by a little girl, emma, who told us about monet and who wanted to see color and light like monet did. the thing i didn't realize was that the impressionists were rebels. before that, everyone was chained to moral messages, and harsh realism; as a student in paris monet was told to go into the louvre and copy the masters, but instead he stood in the window and painted the outdoors. he continued to paint only what inspired him; painting the old masters clearly didn't. he had buddies like renoir who were a kind of parisian art-student-rebel crowd. they had access to better pigments, and the invention of photography mede their medium come unhinged and go in unpredictable directions.

alas the story that touched me was the one where his wife was on her deathbed, and he became absorbed in painting one last portrait of her, this one his last; but, as absorbed as he was in the painting, she died before he could really be with her, and he never painted another person again; he painted only landscapes from then on. landscapes can't die, i guess, or at least it's not as painful when they do. we fell into looking around a little; i even showed some of my own pop art in explaining how modern technology has made "saturation" much easier, a kind of routine distortion that the true photographers despise but is getting much more common everywhere. we also talked about gauguin, who had fled to tahiti or some such place, for reasons i could only speculate; and, egyptian art: you know why those egyptians always have those wild, unrealistic poses? because, if you paint them with a hidden arm, they might be unable to take their arm with them to the afterlife. it was important to paint each limb at its best, without regard to whether that would make the figure in an uncomfortable pose, for what turns out to be virtually forever.

so it is now officially a "heat spell" according to the newspaper that i peer at as i walk by, but don't buy, and the bank signs have taken to listing the "heat index" instead of simply the temperature, to show off how they can make numbers that are over 99. but it brings up the question of whether it actually "feels hotter" just because it's humid, in the same way it "feels colder" when there's some wind, down at the bottom end, and they invent a term "wind chill" which everyone can relate to. i am actually beginning to feel that it's actually the other way around, that the heat actually makes the humidity worse; perhaps a really hot day will make a 90% humidity into a 95% humidity just because you are instantly covered with sweat. but you can't argue with a bank sign, instead you just drive by and it flashes at you. maybe it's competing with the other signs like the gas signs; each one goes up one number at a time and the others follow. one can't do temperature, if the other is doing heat index; that would cause them to lose by tens or scores.

it is, however, hot enough that people don't go out for walks, except late at night, or early morning, unless they are really not thinking or so wrapped up in the frustration of life, that they no longer care. there do seem to be people who function well in this stuff, but they don't see anything; i think their pupils are so small, from being out in the sun, that it's all they can do to not trip on the pavement they are running on. the kids give out early. the dogs come inside to make their noise; every bug in the county finds a bit of standing water, if you leave the hose on for a minute. there are people who live in this stuff with no airconditioning. they have been around forever, but they're like another species. they stop moving at about nine in the morning, except to make sure the fan is plugged in right and the there's plenty of ice tea. they stopped putting the "d" on ice years ago, but their ancestors didn't even have electricity, and people delivered ice in trucks. that was a lucky job, because you could always melt a cube on your neck when you took a break. now, huge engine turbines run building systems which leak out onto the floors because they are overworking, and who knows what they do to the environment but make it worse, and start the whole process over again. does this sound bleak? i don't think it's going backwards, or that we'll learn how to use less energy; i think that, instead, some bizarre threat to power stations will occur and we'll all be forced to summer in northern canada, but, the storms will find us there and we'll be driven back, or become permanent wanderers again. the land seems parched and inhospitable here, even though there are tomatoes and zucchini all over the place, and some people are even getting eggplant, green beans, basil, jalapenos, all kinds of stuff. if the turbines were to stop we'd all be driven back to the woods, by the creeks and rivers where we could run water over ourselves every five minutes. don't water your plants with that aircon-leak iron-studded water; that'll kill them for sure, they're already just about dead, from lack of water, which in turn comes from my own heat stroke, and the fact that, by friday, i'm ready to flee out of there, without a second thought for how they're going to make it over the weekend, as parched as it is, and only an airconditioner, and tons of light; the window is now open, in hopes of combatting the mold. some of those plants, i should have given away long ago; now, only the aloe and the cactus are really thriving, because they seem to like the desert-like dryness, and maybe the cool airconditioning reminds them of desert evenings. you just have to get used to the screwed up seasons, they tell each other, the way the heater blasts in the winter and people have to open their windows, just to manage.


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