Mostly About the Men

I have mopped the floors, done the laundry, tidied up. I was supposed to devote this weekend to writing the Burke and Wills story….maybe tomorrow.

Took this picture on my way to the gym the other day to start tai chi classes…Seemed to capture the mood of “which way now”.

Moving away from the table full of men each morning has made me more observant. I write as I listen and look. The writing is done on a small yellow lined pad. Easy to pull out of my purse and easy to slip out of sight when someone comes over to talk.

Here is one day’s notes.

“He is still talking – non-stop. He needs to be heard but not necessarily listened to. Just those around him to not talk while he does. Interesting how we all are secure knowing there will not be a test later. Not talking while he does is the only requirement. Two of my favorites are not here yet. Funny how they level the place by just taking a seat. I wonder if that dynamic could be captured in art? By line? Textile? Color? Maybe I need to do a sketchbook of these men gathering…no direct image capturing but done after being here. Marks that are the sensations of recall. “Sensations of Recall”. Nice. That is such a good title for an exhibition. Maybe a very long horizontal textile or paper with marks meant to be read left to right. Eye level. Small stones tied to the bottom for the “lows”.

This could be something worked on daily, weekly. Rolled up as completed. Why not? Fabric would take stitching and weight of stone. But paper captures the fragility of recalling. That is another good term. “Fragility of Recall”. Maybe it could all be done in writing that is unreadable. Pencil that fades in and out. Like memory/recall. To make it workable – maybe small scraps to be tied to the long background cloth/paper…this might be worth pursuing. But I need to spend time with Burke and Wills….

One of the men stopped by my table to ask about what I was writing. I told him about the idea of Sensations of Recall and wondering the best way to interpret it in a medium of fragility. He has sculpted metal pieces and said he was only concerned with form and that I seemed to put so much thinking into the work before even starting. Now I am thinking that the way I work has a built-in procrastination.

It got me to thinking about how groups of men have been such a comfortable place for my art and writing. Here is a piece I wrote more than a few years ago. It is the last three stanzas of a longer piece titled, The Repairman.

There is a casualness in the shared trust between him and the others around him.

And because of this it seems that each becomes a better man

when in his company.


I come here often to fill a longing in myself

and to remember others like him

who I have lost along the way.


Here in this shop, I watch and wait for him to select

the parts needed to fix the broken.

Here I am whole.


The men I wrote about in this piece gave me old bits and pieces of their scraps no longer needed to make something whole again. I made several sculptures in old wooden boxes that I called “Patriarchs” from these.  Each one had an old saw blade or sanding disk placed behind it to give the impression of him being an angel. Then I photographed each of them to alter the image into just their essence. I only kept one of these sculptures. It lives on a top shelf in the living room.

It is going to be hot again today. So I have pulled all the shades down, turned fans and the A/C on.  Before I started this blog, I finished off the Stick and Stones Book.

Now it goes on the shelves with other finished books.

All of this reminds me of the years asking myself,  “Have I done enough and have I done it right?”  I asked so many others if they were always asking themselves this.  No, they didn’t.  One woman, artist/printmaker Freda Fairchild, made me look at her as she said, “Sandy, it doesn’t matter.” If it doesn’t matter then why am I still wondering. It is one of those overthinking days. I will go find Burke and Wills….

Til later….