PCS

PCS

 

His love, to mountain

climb, mixes with a

fine sense of painting, knowledge

poetry

brings to his life.  He

pulled out a

bag of “anti-salt:”

anti-soju, which I had

downed seven bottles and two

beers, believing the

cute red ovals to

be plum juice.  As each

table went up to  speak, I’d

rifle their

supply and down it

without a

ceremonial

pour.  I barfed for a half hour

right next to the waiting bus,

thus delaying high

members of

the Southwest Development

Council, and

embarrassing my

brother-in-law for

the very

first time, two weeks into

stay.  Thanks Park

for your art, moons and

mountains, curing salt.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leo Garel

Leo Garel

You came to the Lavender

Door on Tuesdays, the

same day as my sessions, so

I skipped one form, pushed beyond

what Heiner taught me

ten years earlier.

It was your turn to

inadvertently save my

life.  Nothing

anyone else gave

or took matched the peace acquired

splashing colors on

wood, canvas.  You presented

slide shows, taught us when our work

was done, kept the mean

ogres and

real demons at bay

productively, what the pros

called late-bloom

sublimation.  But

there were no

labels at the studio

other than

next to exhibit

paintings.  Our art was

cutting edge,

pure, pushy, fun, a release,

and even

accepted during

our lifetimes.  Tears now.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“I’m Walking”

“I’m Walking”

She heads down gravel lane, walking ancient Cedar Pass.
Nature’s flow soothes demands that threaten simple plans,
Tugged by generations old and new, daily walk like skipping class.

Geographic interventions cause surrender into foreign hands,
but culture is not the biggest challenge that she has:
It’s my moody mornings and countless creative clans.

So once our 18-month-old slows down too fast,
or once he falls asleep by music stands,
she sneaks out to the studio to paint or teach a class.

In the morning we bow and press our hands.
Buddhist gong sounds through a machine, not mass,
but a reverent moment broken by clanging pans.

He likes to play in cupboards, pull tea or frozen bass
onto the floor, onto his feet, surprise! He learns to carry cans
without incident. We can’t wait until he wipes his ass!

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2007. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original.

Eveline Braak

Eveline Braak

Her face is Bergmanesque, she paints like Calder might,
Had he grown around Utrecht. She doesn’t blame
When men trip and fall around her. She smiles, asks
Questions, searches for their souls and then decides.

As a traveler, unlikely to walk the route again, I
Had a chance. As a guide for 30 days the chance
Evaporated due to possible entanglements. How’s that
For Dutch? One hundred percent tolerant, but private.

Those “other fish” we hear about often swim away.
My heart swells and drops like tides every day.
But this is just November, Christmas sets in soon: the day
Those blood-drenched barons try not to act like goons.

When paint flows like a waterfall, love gushes off the edge.
No one knows when life will end, but I make this pledge:
That no matter what you need, no matter where you are
I will find a way to nudge you toward your highest dream.

She poses for the camera, she smiles at football games,
She has the magic that I seek. Eveline comes from royalty.
The type that work the land. Anyone who finds her
Will fall in love. A creative fish may one day hook her yet.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2002. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tadpole

Tadpole

Before you lies an expression of agape
One tadpole floating up to see his brother,
A young creature, still so close to mother
But with the nerve to swim a better way.

He has the sense to take his brother too.
Five minutes purple splashing white
Is how he came to you tonight
Come with us to experience the new.

When was the last time you took a chance?
Be alive like he is, do not wait.
Make space, engage, then concentrate.
Pick a brother, start the harvest dance.

The tadpole invigorates his pool–
His place is not secure but he swims on.
You have the time to cherish his elan.
Guard his freedom, use love as the tool.

A tadpole grabs his brother, off they go:
They will not perish now, nor evermore
Because your love has touched them to the core
There will always be another chance to grow.

 

 

 

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 2001. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Atlanta

Atlanta

Buckhead offers twelve-dollar sandwiches,
Parents lunching their children on Saturday:
Straight from Beemer to deli to Emory to evening
Wedding to Benz to kids at lunch on Peachtree.

North Peachtree, where you can’t quite see the smog
Thanks to trees and art and tacky bars. Southern
Culture on the skids, but not outside this deli, where
Leaves tumble with Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda cans.

All I can think of is you: hamburgers and organic
Bananas, juices, never soda, and a complete
Satisfaction. Money doesn’t earn these deli-dippers
The satisfaction you have. Inner peace even.

You cook after volunteering, after the kids are
Down for the night. You go there and back then home
To ride your bike to work. Teach me how to calm
Myself won’t you? One point at five points:

There is no chemistry to teach the zen you have.
Perfect weather makes yellow leaves stand out.
Small winds coerce more travel. Sharp shadows
Waver. One beacon lures me home to paint autumn.

Copyright, Doug Stuber, 1999. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given, and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Son Bong Chae Versus Leonardo Da Vinci

Son Bong Chae Versus Leonardo Da Vinci.

By Doug Stuber

Originally published in the Gwangju News.

http://www.gwangjunewsgic.com

There is great art to be found in the world, but few have achieved the aesthetic, critical, popular and commercial success of Son Bang Chae (born 1969). Son’s work has been shown by the Michael Shultz Gallery in Berlin at the prestigious Art Basel jamboree and at the Art Basel Miami. To be the representative of a major gallery at two major art fairs in the world is about as high as you can get in the art world, but Son also has works owned by four different museums. He has built a career on defying norms, with work that should outlive his grandchildren in popularity. So putting him up against the canonized genius Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) may seem outrageous, but it is not.

Leonardo Da Vinci never wrote a title, or a pamphlet, or even gave a hint about what Mona Lisa was thinking when she posed with that smile the world knows. He did not because thankfully, conceptual art had not been invented yet, so every viewers can have his or her own opinion about what the art represents. Just as Marcel Duchamp cleverly never told us what we were supposed to think when he hung up a latrine or, ahem, an old bicycle, neither did Da Vinci. We have to figure it out for ourselves.

Son’s work would be some of the best landscapes by a traditional Asian artist even if he made them on one panel or with ink on rice paper. As it is, Son paints for over 2,000 hours to create one work that uses 5 to 12 panels and varying small squares to stretch the length of any size room, from a big room at the Gwangju Museum of Art to a living room size to any-museum-in-the-world size. These sights are spectacular, especially in the way that the depth also exudes the feeling of fog in the mountains, the importance of the dimensionality of trees and the insanely fine-detailed work that makes oil on plexiglas look like watercolor or ink on paper. This technical achievement alone ranks Son among the top living artists.

Chae expects us to understand that the trees in his paintings represent the world’s diasporas. The trees, each an individual, become rooted overseas and cannot ever go home, since trees – unless cut or used for lumber – generally live out their lives, fall down and rot. Philosophically, one can easily agree that to be in a foreign country permanently can be isolating and lead to yearning for familiar ways. But why are Son’s landscapes not able to speak on their own? Why can he not just let his viewers make their own stories from his art, the way Da Vinci does?

Once an artist explains exactly what she or he means by his or her art, especially when it is a leap as far as this one, it takes away the viewer’s ability to create a narrative out of the story. Compare Son’s work to that of Edward Hopper (1882-1967), the U.S. artist who famously painted cityscapes with people so vapid as to be interpreted as a hint at the lack of privacy and meaninglessness in an urban existence. We as viewers do not have to see it Hopper’s way and many choose not to do so. Many love the works without having that point of view.

With his technical prowess, if Son wants to show us the lives of migrants, then he should paint the lives of migrants. For instance, what would be the harm in painting the true story of the Daecheon migrant, or depicting an imported urban wife so battered that the husband did not even show up at the divorce trial? Why not depict that husband’s easy life, free from jail time despite having laid on such a battering? How about a painting of 20 men living in one room, while one woman cooks and cleans for all of them so that they might be able to send 70 percent of their meager wages back to Mexico or the Philippines? Or a painting of the long hours worked at the “DDD” jobs that few Koreans will take? Son could easily depict a man falling off a building, not yet complete, at a construction site. But Son does not create these types of paintings.

To show the real lives of migrants would take away from their aesthetic beauty. So Dear Reader, please accept that Son’s trees are capable of showing us the entire lives – the good, the bad, the fun and the difficult – which migrants have experienced around the world. You can also see them and be amazed at the works, melting into the landscapes and starting to imagine yourself walking along Mudeung Mountain with Son, stopping on the way to fill a tea pot with mountain stream water, build a fire, boil the water and sip freshly-picked April tea from Jiri Mountain.

You just cannot break bread with a tree, though. And in this sense, I “get it” about foreigners in Korea. Many are welcomed on the same levels that humans welcome trees into their lives: barely noticed, from afar, useful as fruit bearers, ondol fuel or lumber.