Art, Poetry and Uber

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is a painting that is felt rather than seen.”  Leonardo da Vinci

It always is fun to meet new people and you never know the stories that people you have never met will share. Such was the case last week while Alan and I were in Nashville TN.

I need to first back-up and put a back story to all of this. I have been thinking a lot about how art and poetry have so many parallels. I started appreciating this with an exhibit I attended where 12 artists and poets collaborated to produce poems inspired by artworks and artworks inspired by poems. The poets performed their poems, sonnets, ballads, and free verse while the paired paintings, sculptures, photography and mixed media artwork were exhibited on stage and on the screen.

Consider this poem by Rumi:

My face has the color of autumn and yours, the color of spring. Unless these two become one roses and thorns cannot grow.

Roses and thorns appear to be opposites. The garden laughs at those who see them as opposites.

And then consider this painting by Setsuko Yoshida

Roses and Thorns. Acrylic. Setsuko Yoshida. 2010

Poetry and painting are both art forms; poetry uses words and sounds, and painting uses shapes, shades, and colors. Each of them is an expression of the artist’s heart and inner experience; and each has its own impact.

More recently, Terri Wentzka collaborated with a poet Amy Rea for an exhibition “Myth” at the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. Both Terri and Amy explore myth and story and ask the viewer to consider,  why is myth so important to us as human beings, and why are we so often invested in stories of dubious origin?  As Terri wrote about her work in this exhibition,

“…it was natural for me to include text from the accompanying poem somewhere in each image; in some cases only a few words, in others the complete poem. This use of text is not meant to be explanatory, but instead to provide another visual element and a link to further layers of meaning.”.

The painter Tito Lessi (1858-1917) said that painting and poetry are similar in the way that they make “absent things present.” They also imitate reality. The exhibition “Myth” at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts open from March 10 through April 7th.

So how does this all relate to Uber? Last week my husband and I were in Nashville and needed a ride back to our hotel. We called Uber and a young woman picked us up in her Mini Cooper. We exchanged pleasantries and soon discovered that she, Ciona Rouse was a poet. It all began with her asking us if were seeing the Nick Cave exhibition at the Frist Art Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. As we talked about our love of Cave’s installations and sound suits, Rouse mentioned that she was involved with the exhibition by writing poetry as a response to his work. She would be meeting Cave later in the week for the first time and was excited about the artistic collaboration they would be creating for a community event associated with his exhibition. We had much to talk about and soon we were back to our hotel, wishing each other the best.

As I continue to do watercolor, mixed media/collage I will remember that what I am thinking about is also being thought about by others as well. There is that wider circle of conversation always happening if you look for it. By the way, for those of you who are teachers, you might want to check out the website for the Academy of American Poets. They have an excellent collection of poetry, with curriculum that integrates responding to poetry through art and theater. The Seattle Museum of Art also has a great curriculum guide for using the art of Nick Cage for science, performing art and language arts.

Thanks for reading!