Krevolin’s angels and the art of funky

by Admin Thursday, September 29, 2016 8:52 PM

My mom has two old pieces of sculpture she wants to give me because she knows of my love of both old and especially of funky. They’re not antiques even though they’re from circa 1970. But they’re definitely funky. After visiting last year – can it really be nearly a year since she was here? – she knew instantly that these pieces, which she no longer displays would be great in our house. We are very eclectic in our décor. We love the art of funky. 

When our family lived in New York, we were in Dutchess County. We started out in one of the hamlets called Staatsburg where we lived in a big development. We had a split level ranch at the time, a house style that was very popular. I think we had shag carpeting. My mother hated it. We lived there for a short time and then my parents built a house in Hyde Park, one of the towns in the county. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s summer home was there. There were also several mansions, including a Vanderbilt palace. 

I remember living there, but not well. My mother liked it though; I do know that. There were some interesting areas and many small artist enclaves scattered on the outskirts of the towns. I suspect this was one of the reasons she liked it so well. My mother was always a bit of an artist. She used to do a pen and ink drawing for our Christmas card every year. For a time, she dabbled in watercolor. When she was in college, she studied art. If memory serves, she eventually got a degree in education and taught art. But I was very little and don’t really remember. I know we still have several of the pieces she created while she was in college, from wood engravings to tapestry-like pieces where she used pieces of cloth sewn onto burlap in order to create a landscape. I think my brother still has one of these hanging in his house. 

Evidently when we still lived there, she discovered an artist named Lewis Krevolin. She went to Krevolin’s studio and just loved the funky crudeness of his sculptures. She bought two angels, each about a foot or so tall, for $25. When she brought them home, my dad was not pleased. How could she spend money on something that looked like that?

As my mother likes to joke now, if it didn’t get hit with a bat, dunked into a basket or tossed down a field, my dad had no use for it. 

Those two angels have stayed with her all these years. She still has them. We talked about them yesterday and she said she’d been thinking about giving them to me, ever since she came to visit a year ago, largely because of our tendency toward eclectic, funky pieces of pottery and art. As she was telling me about them, I thought I remembered exactly what she was talking about. If they’re what I remember, I said, I’d love them. And I bet Kevin will even like them since while he doesn’t automatically gravitate toward certain types of art, he does have a strong appreciation for it. 

Great, she said. I have them out in the shed. I’ll take some pictures and send them to you so you can decide for sure. And then next time you’re home, you can take them back with you.

She didn’t think they’d travel well if shipped.

I got the photos several minutes later, and they were exactly what I remembered. Crude faces and yet there was and is something about them that’s intriguing, beguiling even. Lewis Krevolin, who was born in 1933 and is still alive, is no longer doing sculptures or pottery. He now does pastels as far as my mother knows. 

They’re dusty, my mom said, because they’ve been in the shed for years. But they’ll clean up fine.

Because they’ve been in the shed. I thought this a bit serendipitous. My mom’s house was built around 1926. It’s a small, adorable cape, two bedrooms, one bath, somewhere around 900 square feet, plus an attic and a basement. It has a one car garage which she added, and next to the garage, it has a shed. The previous owner was an artist and the “shed” was his studio. It has no plumbing but it has a wood stove, ceiling fans and dormer windows. A lovely porch off of the sliding glass door. The angels created by one artist and purchased by another are now in the shed previously used by yet another.

That’s definitely worth celebrating.

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The air feels alive

by Lorin Michel Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:45 PM

A storm approaches slowly. The air is crisp though warm, puffy clouds float amongst the blue of the sky. In the distance, darker, more ominous clouds are gathering. They say it’s Armageddon. I suspect they’re wrong. There will be weather but there is supposed to be weather this time of year. Since we haven’t had any of late, it’s much bigger news that it might otherwise be.

I love when the air feels alive. I actually heard somebody say that the other day and it rang so true. The wind blows. There is an electrical charge that pulsates throughout, like static electricity. Touch something and it snaps and sparks. The air flicks.

The wind swirls and gushes, teases the trees and the flowers, ruffles the hair. Birds flaps and fly, and soar, chasing each other up and down and around before coming to a screeching halt atop the building. You can hear the sound of their wings as the pulse through the air.

Butterflies hover and alight. Moths do the same. Small flying insects cruise about, looking for access to the light, the house. The wind helps them as well.

Sunlight streams through the upper windows of the house, the windows up near the ceiling some 16 feet up. Maybe even higher. They cut across the wall, horizontal glass that’s been UV coated so as to hopefully curb some of the fading that inevitably occurs because of the sun. Below, dust particles dance in each stream. I am forever amazed at how much is actually inside the air, things we can’t see until we can.

I am dust particles in sunlight, I am the round sun.
Say I am You, by the 13th century poet Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

I used to joke to those back east that I didn’t trust air I couldn’t see. They thought it was hysterical, given that I lived in Los Angeles and LA had long been known for its smog problem. When I was in college and visited California for the first time, I spent a day or two in Los Angeles. I remember driving up from San Diego thinking that the air must be so dense with emissions tat you couldn’t see anything. A really dirty fog bank.

It was nothing like that of course. The sky was blue. Yes, there was a bit of smog but it hardly affected the views or visibility. I saw an article today about China and their horrendous smog problem. There was a picture of a man walking his golden retriever. Both were wearing surgical masks to block out some of the bad air. All around them was smog, making visibility only about 16 feet or so. Scary stuff. The air in China is alive in a completely different way; not a good way.

Clouds are rolling in over the desert, filling the air. Those that were fluffy and white seem to have left for drier prairies. These clouds are heavy, a brownish gray, ready for rain. The air is getting thicker even as the winds pick up. A storm is coming and it will be glorious.

It will drench the earth, cleanse the soul. It will be difficult while it’s happening, but once it’s over the air will be clearer, cleaner; crisper. Reborn like tomorrow.

The Japanese writer Haruki Murakami wrote: “And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

Another metaphor for life, much like the air being alive. A living, breathing entity that surrounds us, keeps us true, it can spark with furry and dissipate in the wind. And then, it can dance in the shafts of the sun. That’s what life is all about.

Dancing on the head of a pen

by Lorin Michel Thursday, August 8, 2013 11:01 PM

Some days my posts flow easily and quickly. The phrase write themselves comes to mind. That doesn’t happen often. Some days the phrase that comes to mind is pulling teeth. Some days I start with an interesting title that has somehow wound its way into my head and I have to do something with it if for no other reason than it’s too good to delete.

Such is the case today. For some reason, as I sat at my desk this morning, my ceiling fan whirring above, Cooper snoring below, his feet twitching as he ran in place toward or away from something, the idea of dancing on the head of a pen entered into my imagination. I know that the actual, rather odd saying is dancing on the head of a pin, and more accurately the question: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? It is often used to dismiss the philosophy and theology of the 13th century philosophers and theologians Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. It is also a metaphor for wasting time debating topics that have no practical value or questions whose answers hold no intellectual consequence. Some question whether the phrase exists at all. H.S. Lang, author of Aristotle’s Physics and its Medieval Varieties, wrote this about that: “The question of how many angels can dance on the point of a needle, or the head of a pin, is often attributed to ‘late medieval writers’ … In point of fact, the question has never been found in this form.”

The late British writer Dorothy Sayers decided that the question of angels dancing on the head of a pin was nothing more than a debating exercise because “Angels are pure intelligences, not material, but limited, so that they have location in space, but not extension.” I’m not sure I know what that means. Still, she concluded that there could be a limitless number of angels anywhere including the head of a pin – or a pen – because they don’t actually occupy physical space.

I suppose it depends on whether or not one believes in angels and since I’m a firm believer that dog is my co-pilot, I pretty much come down on the side of not necessarily.

But what about dancing on the head of a pen? If it’s not angels, what and who is dong this waltz? In the cool gray of the morning, I decided to talk to dog and see what we could come up with.

“Coop?” He stretched. “Got a question for you?”

He lifted his head up from his prone position on the floor, looked at me and yawned. This is exactly how I would imagine god would behave if I believed that such an exchange could happen. He would be bored with stupid, philosophical questions and would instead be more interested in catching up on his sleep. After all, he had created another nice day in paradise. Nothing too horrible was happening anywhere, at least nothing new-horrible. He would deserve a nap.

“Who do you think is dancing on the end of this?” I held up a black fine-tipped rollerball. He rolled over, got up, stretched again, shook his fur into place and ambled to me. He sniffed the pen, licked it once, then laid down again.

I’m going to go with imagination and ideas. That’s what’s dancing on the head of my pen. As the sun streams through my window I can almost see them, these ideas. I think they even have wings to fly.

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