The Art of Spring

Pussy Willows at Grounds for Sculpture ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Monday Morning Musings:

We walk under an azure sky, a dream
of golden glow and light-sprayed air
where color blooms,

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, NJ ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

drifts in the air, swinging, winging
on elegant peacock wings, it slides to the ground
and bobbing, red hen-headed says

look at me,
and we do and see

we are sun-drinking, blinking in the spring light
uncorked, afloat, soaking in warmth and wine, awakened

to the possibilities of time, and aware of the artlessness
of nature’s art. Nothing can compare—

and there is no way to counterfeit a spring day. But words
can remind me to recall the mockingbird’s song, the dazzling shimmer
of sunlight on blue water, and the way we laughed,

Shimmers and swirls. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

and how I drank deeply love and laughter, the color of garnets, glowing
in the setting sun.

William Heritage Winery

Today it is cold and windy, but last week, we had some perfect, beautiful spring days. Spring is definitely capricious. It’s still the pandemic, but we actually got out to some new venues, while remaining safe and socially distant. We sat outside at William Heritage Vineyards, where the chickens were walking about and looking for handouts. We visited Grounds for Sculpture on the most beautiful day.

Merril’s Movie/Theater/TV Club: We watched the Lantern Theater’s production of The Craftsman. This is an excellent play by Bruce Graham and a well-done production. (We saw it in the theater, too.) You can still buy tickets to stream it. It’s based on the true story of Han van Meegeren, who was prosecuted in the Netherlands for selling art to Nazis, particularly Vermeers. It turns out the van Meegeren painted the works himself. The play has a lot to say about art, art criticism, the law, and collaboration with enemies. We also finished the Belgian mystery The Break (Netflix), which we both enjoyed.

The Value of Art and Dancing in the Rain

Monday Morning Musings:

“Great art evokes a response. . .emotion.”

Bruce Graham, The Craftsman

“We have a story we want to tell you about a play — a play that changed my life. Every night, we tell this story. But somehow I can never remember the end.”

–Lemml, at the beginning of Indecent by Paula Vogel

“Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin. . .dance me to the end of love.”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

The day began with a stunning sunrise

a prize or disguise

for what would come later?

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Pitman golf coures, Pitman, NJ

We walk through city streets

listen to the beats

the syncopation of traffic and conversations

the announcements from underground stations,

look at the buildings and public art

take heart that the rain has not yet started.

I notice a clock, a reminder to go inside,

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the theater,

another world unfurls.

 

At the back of stage

projections of artwork by Vermeer

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Johannes Vermeer, “Girl Reading a Letter by an Open Window,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

over them we suddenly hear

guns or bombs and the paintings disappear

overlaid with black

then from the back

a man appears to give a speech

he is the head of the provisional government,

the Nazis are gone

the dawn of a new time

but justice must be done.

 

The play is about a forger, a con man

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who longs to be an artist, and when he can—

he also gets revenge upon the man, the critic

the con man’s a cynic

his wife, perhaps anti-Semitic

later she says she should have spoken out

without a doubt

a line that is relevant today

as is much of the play

which explores art, creativity, ability

and should an “expert’s” opinion hold dominion

over art

What is it worth, what is fake and what is real?

what will you pay to seal a deal?

I’m reminded of a man, an emperor with no clothes,

(as everyone knows)

who insists that his paintings (and news) are real

because he could never admit that he was taken

for a fool

(He is mistaken.)

The play is partly a courtroom drama

set in a particular time and place

the space converted

with a clever set and lighting

inviting us to see the different scenes—

office, jail cell, and courtroom.

there are flashbacks to the past,

and an excellent cast.

The setting is important–

the Netherlands had been occupied

those in the Resistance tried to defy

with some success, but also retaliation

leading to the Hunger Winter

and more lives splintered.

What should happen to those collaborate?

The play explores how we express hate

“revenge has become a spectator sport,”

do we resort then to the level of the oppressors?

We walk and talk

See a house with sunflowers

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Walking now a bit in showers

discuss the play over wine, beer, and cheese

then out into the night

see rain reflecting off city lights

prance and dance

tap a beat onto the street.

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Over homemade pizza and wine again

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Cozy inside from wind and rain

we watch a play on TV,

we see

another story based on events that were real,

and we feel,

we definitely feel—

this play within a play

to Klezmer music, the actors dance

and ashes fall from their coats and pants

they dance to the end of love

and perhaps they dance then back again,

there is a scene in the original play,

written in 1907, God of Vengeance

by Sholem Asch

the scene, referred to as “the rain dance”

involves two women, lovers—

the play is about the history of that play

performed successfully in Yiddish in Europe,

then the cast was arrested on obscenity charges

when it was translated into English and performed in the U.S.

(not a success),

the play is performed in the Lodz ghetto, in an attic room,

though all there know, they are probably doomed.

The play is about a culture lost

to time, to the Holocaust,

but it is about past and present

and how art matters

even when people are battered, shattered

their life in tatters,

and though some only value art for its monetary worth

the true value is in what it brings forth

in emotion and feeling

art sends those who value it reeling–

makes us think and want to dance in the rain

again and again

makes us laugh, or cry

makes us sigh and want to defy

Does it change our lives?

Yes, this I know,

art does, and helps us grow.

 

We saw the Lantern Theater Company.’s  production of The Craftsman.

We saw Indecent on PBS’ Great Performances. You may still be able to see in online.