Early last week I was feeling down about The Proceedings here in the US as well as far-too-much-of-everything elsewhere throughout the globe. Decided of all my options the best was to take myself in literal hand and sally forth into a larger world of life that inherently makes sense to me. To go somewhere for the specific purpose of personal nourishment/internalized re-focus. So, clearly, I needed to select a place that helps me feel grounded and solidified at a taproot level as well,.
For me the [general] place that always seems to call most loudly when I need to remember who I am, who I've been in the cumulative past, and what I'm doing here in the NOW: the Pioneer Valley. It's the first place I 'landed' in MA - specifically in Hadley. Which in the late 70's was an operational farming town of individual family stakes - primarily growing either potatoes or tobacco.
The way I felt upon my arrival there stood out powerfully for its authentic quality of timelessness. For whatever combination of elusive and significant reasons as soon as I stepped out of the van I was driving I was there. Instantaneously Of The Land - as if it pulled me close in a firm embrace while whispering in my ear wtf took you so long to get here?
I was 21 at the time. The split second of experience proved itself an invaluable touchstone once J. and I planted ourselves in the urban/unceasingly kinetic vibration of Boston and Cambridge the following winter:
I have arrived at the kind of home that never needs to second guess itself. I am ME here.
Think we all accumulate/collage-together a number of psychic and emotional homes among the places we've visited or come to settle for however long. Perhaps, like me, these experiences are categorized consciously into specific types/levels of home's subjective definition. Think that's becoming clear in the collage project for all of us. In a far more extroverted situational sense the Pioneer Valley's vibration holds the specific being home of feeling deeply fused with an immediate and unquestioning sense of connection. To self, other humans and their history, shared history, and of course the land herself.
The specifics of my original plan for a Wellness Date were not based on mental notions or planning but swift gut instinct. I decided what was most likely to work for my overall goal was a visit to the Eric Carle museum. Have never been there or made it a point to keep up with museum doings. But my certainty was so absolute (the collage effect factor. Of whatever original work of EC's happened to be on display) that I didn't check anything on the website other than the weekend hours because by then it had occurred to me this might be a positive bonding low-fi excursion my family would enjoy sharing with me.
Didn't actually look at the website until the family was assembling for leave-taking just prior to heading west. Then I thought to check on what was showing in the other two gallery exihibits. Learned the smallest gallery held two pieces of work from a variety of illustrators: a piece of "first" artwork as a child or teenager and something from the present tense. The primary/illustration guest of note featured a Maira Kalman exhibit. Pay dirt for what ailed me across the board! Have been admiring her New Yorker covers for years of taking the magazine.
The above image is one of her paint cloths. It's hung on a wall as part of a giant assemblage/artist's inspiration board that runs the length of the long entrance way connecting both ends of the gallery spaces. You can't take photographs in the galleries. I asked - figuring why not - if I could take them in the entrance way. The docent hesitated, saw the eagerness on my face and spoke quietly.
"go ahead but very quickly".
The paint cloth filled me with emotion as well as instinctive below-the-skin recognition and instant inspiration. I moved as quickly as possible in front of the inspiration wall searching out a few additional groupings that somehow capture the flavor of what the below looks/feels like when you're standing right in front of it. An entire wall arranged with a highly creative person's personal inspiration artifacts and ephemera.
The interior gallery exhibit combines inter-active areas for children with a charming video, a glass topped exhibit of her sketchbooks (oh to touch and page through them!!) and three walls plus inner panels lined with her framed artwork - primarily gouache paintings. Wish I lived closer, had a museum membership, and could bop in and out pretty much at will to really soak in the glory of her color mixing and its assured/inspired application.
Had noticed on the way in there were postcards in the gift shop. Mostly of Carle's work but with some very memorable others as well. Was thrilled to find three of the Kalman paintings I'd most enjoyed studying. It's not even close to looking at the originals but more than enough to prompt my visual memory concerning what I most enjoyed during my time with them.
Kalman's fascination with the Lincoln family delights me because I share it. I also have a life-long love of illustrated road trip illustrations. But my personal show-stopper OF the show - making its postcard take-along all the more happiness inducing - was the NY harbor fireworks display. magenta-to-pink-to-orange is my inner child/crone woman's color Peak happiness zone. And the range is so brilliant subtle in its fluidity within the actual painting. In your face for sure but absolutely worth looking closely for a while to see what it's really going on beyond the blare. Not unlike taking in a fireworks display.
(if you'd like to see any of these three in more detail like the two below shoot me an email and I'll oblige.)
Am including two additional illustrator's art in postcard form because they fit so well with the themes of this blog. Above is from Jerry Pinkney - an illustration for A Starlit Somesault Downhill by Nancy Willard.
This one grabbed my heart and held on tight. In fact, when I got home I found a like-new copy of the book for less money than the postage to get it here. Book is called The Secret River by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. Illustration is by Leon and Diane Dillon.