October is here! This weekend I took down my second gallery show ever — a culmination of work on the “Art & Poetry Project” — a writing critique group which was originally founded to pair writers and artists but which has evolved over the years as each poet’s interpretation of that theme. My first show, “Family Album,” in fall of 2017, was a show of 12 poems which sought to capture the lives of family members as represented by vintage photos. It was very meaningful to me, as it let me put a dozen family photos together of my Aunt Helyn, my Uncle Larry, my Grammy Dot, etc., but I was surprised that my stories seemed to strike a chord with the community as well and help them to treasure their own family stories.
When time came for a new show, (yes, I was amazingly invited back!) I decided to look to a different family inspiration– the art of my children. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably experienced the deluge of kid art: it comes home in piles, you love it, but do you really need to keep every scrap, doodle, and scribble? A good friend shared her solution of taking photos of everything before you get rid of it, and I do that with some, but some is just too good to toss. Not only that, looking at their creations presented me with a lingering philosophical question on the nature of art. For me, a big part of art is what we love and value. (Would you rather own a portrait of you drawn with love by your child than the Mona Lisa? I would!) Art can answer questions– or raise them. Art can represent — or deconstruct. Art can be skilled — or just attempted. Furthermore, I’ve always wondered just what makes art valuable or “important” enough to be in a museum. Is a canvas painted completely in red with one blue dot a masterpiece? Couldn’t anyone have done it?
Anyway…With that in mind, “Beyond Scribbles” became my new show — 14 works from both of my children paired with my poetry. Most of the poems were written with close inspiration from the art themselves, a few simply caught my eye and made me realize “Hey, I wrote a poem about that already!” Slowly, a collection of poems and art began to take shape, even more so as I framed the pieces I had collected and realized they suddenly looked like “real art.”
The show is down now, but some will be back up for an “encore” to accompany a public reading at 6:30 on Nov. 2nd in the York Public Library, where I will share the stage with the other three poets who also had shows this fall. If you’re in the area, I hope you’ll come. In the meantime, I will leave you with two of my favorites from the show: “Bigfoot” (art by my son Robbie) and “Egg Beach” (art by my son Maxwell). Enjoy!
BIGFOOT (Inspired by art from Robbie Kyer)
Saw a bigfoot on the way to work,
Taking a shortcut through the woods.
Thought of pulling out my phone,
Posting pictures– going viral.
I don’t need the hassle, nor does he.
Figured he’d be grateful
For his privacy,
Or hers, I guess.
It’s not my place to judge.
Nodded once, the way you do.
Got a nod back with the slightest smirk,
As if to say:
Man, Mondays, am I right?
Copyright July 30, 2019
EGG BEACH (Inspired by art from Maxwell Kyer)
It’s easy to write of depression,
You’ll find it wherever you look:
There’s bombings and wanton aggression,
More pain than could fill up a book.
The news tells of terror and dying,
The darkness can weigh like a curse.
Some days getting up is too trying,
And trying to care makes it worse.
The folks you thought friends now despise you,
The world doesn’t work like it should.
What good will your sorrowful cries do,
When even the “good guys” aren’t good?
But even with too much to handle,
It’s never ok to give in.
It only takes one single candle,
To push back the darkness within.
Oh sure, that’s a lame proposition.
It’s greeting card fodder, cliché.
Just how can it help your condition?
It’s like saying “Have a nice day!”
If that’s true, then never buy ice cream,
Or watch foxes play in the wild.
Don’t pet kittens sleeping in sunbeams,
Or ponder the art of a child.
But my form of immunization,
Against all that threatens my joy
Are lobsters and “Egg Beach” vacations
As seen through the eyes of a boy.
Copyright MK, July 10, 2016