After the Art — Issue 5 — September 2019

Welcome to After the Art’s fifth — and first anniversary! — issue.

We hope you enjoy these four essays:

“The Poesy and the Ecstasy” by Dana Delibovi

“Goya’s Red Boy” by Melinda Giordano

“An Aerial View: Jerry Takigawa’s F-374″ by Beth McDermott

“New Gad” by Sarah Einstein

And in honor of our first anniversary we’ve added something new — a book review/essay:

“Actual Enjoyment” by Katharine Coldiron

We’ve also started a Facebook page, which you can follow for posts about future issues (of course) but also exhibits, articles, books, essays and sites that might be of interest.

Continue reading “After the Art — Issue 5 — September 2019”

The Poesy and the Ecstasy

by Dana Delibovi

I spent ten days in Rome, one summer during college. I walked the Via Appia, heard opera in the Terme di Caracalla. I drank a lot of wine, which never seemed to get me drunk the way the stuff stateside did. I fell in love—well, in lust—hourly.

Of course, I saw the visual arts of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Some of these works transfixed me, among them the sculpture in marble, Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1652), by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. This work shows the young saint lolling back in a moan, while a smiling angel readies himself to pierce her with an arrow. The sexual energies of the sculpture are so strong, it’s a wonder it made it into the Roman Catholic church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (only in Italy, where beauty beats dogma hands down). I count my memory of the sculpture as a jewel, although of late, a poem has illuminated its flaws. Continue reading “The Poesy and the Ecstasy”

Goya’s Red Boy

by Melinda Giordano

It has always been the case, this small frisson of irony and recognition.  For before I can take in the qualities of the painting – the child’s scarlet suit, the zoological arrangement of pets at his feet, his lineage of names printed at the border – I can see only one thing:  his fleeting yet arresting similarity to my brother.  In particular, I am reminded of a distant photograph of him, with a square of gauze on his bare arm from a recent polio vaccine.  In both painting and photograph, there is a parallel that bridges all of time’s idiosyncrasies, joining these images of two young boys.  This simpatico of youth resides, I think, in the eyes:  round and expansive; their gaze roaming like colts beneath a wide, pure forehead. Continue reading “Goya’s Red Boy”

An Aerial View: Jerry Takigawa’s F-374

 

by Beth McDermott

I came across F-374, a photograph by Jerry Takigawa, in a small shop in Carmel Valley Village, California. Among teak salad bowls and wrought iron birdcages, F-374 was displayed over a half-moon console table crowded with miscellaneous gifts. A person could have easily missed the photograph while admiring wood pillar candleholders, or while lifting and tilting a silver-handled serving platter. But I couldn’t bring myself to leave the half-moon console table because the objects in the photograph at eye-level were vaguely familiar. And yet their familiarity was made strange by their arrangement: three rows of white and cream circular objects were framed by four rectangular orange objects against a dark and blurry background image. The objects pinned against the seeming-to-move backdrop reminded me of a film paused with opening credits onscreen. I wanted to know what the objects were. The white ones hovered at the surface of the photograph, as if I could reach my hand through the glass and pick one up. Continue reading “An Aerial View: Jerry Takigawa’s F-374”

New Gad

by Sarah Einstein

 

I am standing in the ruins of the town of New Gad, West Virginia, which rose and fell in the empty basin of what was once the Summersville Lake in an imagined future. Two-headed deer and the occasional zombie-like thing shuffle by, but they’re easy pickings, even though I fight with a tambourine encrusted with knife blades. Mostly, though, I comb through the beached houseboats and old bait shops looking for any useful thing: a knife, a tin of dogfood, an old cash register, a stack of clipboards, a life preserver, a mutated rat to eat. It’s hard times in the version of West Virginia imagined in Bethesda Game Studio’s Fallout 76. Continue reading “New Gad”

Actual Enjoyment

by Katharine Coldiron

There are 34 pieces of creative writing in The Untold Gaze, a lush art book of paintings by Stephen O’Donnell. Each of the pieces—mostly stories, but a few poems as well—was inspired by one of O’Donnell’s paintings, and each is presented alongside its inspiration. Most if not all of the 34 writers are based in Portland, Oregon, as O’Donnell is.

I expected to absorb and assess this book as a novelty. With contributors like Tom Spanbauer, Whitney Otto, and Lidia Yuknavitch, I was certain the written work would be good. But I suspected O’Donnell’s paintings would act as load-bearing supports for the work, and thus I’d have to lower the bar for actual enjoyment. I was wrong. The Untold Gazeis a successful experiment in blending creative writing and visual art, more graceful and more memorable than any similar endeavors I’ve known. Continue reading “Actual Enjoyment”

Hair Art

by Anna Leahy

At the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia, I am disappointed that I cannot take photographs of the specimens on display. At first, I think it is out of respect for the dead that photography is prohibited, for many of the artifacts are human bodies or body parts. But you can see the Soap Lady, the Hyrtl Skull Collection, and the case of slides of Albert Einstein’s brain on the museum’s website. The museum’s Instagram is brimming with unnerving images. I end up taking notes on the contents of the cabinets. After meandering the permanent collection, which the museum has called “disturbingly informative,” I wander into the room that’s used for temporary exhibits and find Woven Strands: The Art of Human Hairwork, a gathering from private collections of bouquets, wreaths, jewelry, and other keepsakes made of human hair, glass beads, and wire. As opposed to our flesh, our hair doesn’t decay, so hair is good material for sculpture. In the nineteenth century, this type of domestic artwork became a popular form of mourning, a physical part of themselves that women left behind and other women reshaped. Continue reading “Hair Art”

Katrina and I

by Ashten Shope

It feels like my body is spinning, barreling toward no destination in particular, as I walk. My thoughts are flung out by the centripetal force of my spin as my sympathetic nervous system takes over and guides my footfalls. I grasp the door handle of the East Carolina University Art Gallery and step inside. On my right are ceramics and resin pieces. My eyes land on two resin vaginas, one red and one gold. I look into their labia as if they are the eyes of great hurricanes. I turn away and look at the piece I came to see; I make landfall. The white curls and swirls and twirls of garbage capture the rhythm of my mind as I stare into the eye of the sculpture Remember Me, Katrina. Continue reading “Katrina and I”

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