A Sunday detour with Jackson Pollock

The sky has been warning it will rain again and this evening the fog is like a warning or a punctuation mark that the space heater will be on tonight. Instead of attending a fabulous potluck with Italian Wedding soup in hand, I was given the gift of several hours of uninterrupted brain space to finish my residency journal for school. Consisting of a 10 page response to lectures or workshops that challenged or encouraged me, I am marinating in my notes.

This evening, I am reconsidering the value of cross-fertilization in the form of friendships bridging artistic mediums. Frank O’Hara spent so much time at the MOMA that he ended up becoming an assistant curator. He befriended painters of the abstract expressionist spirit and even wrote a poem entitled “Why I am not a painter.” What’s brilliant about the poem is that as he describes a befuddlement with how his friend Mike Goldberg composes the painting “Sardines”, he does the same thing poetically that Goldberg does visually. He described his poems as “all-over” poems, just as Pollock described his style as “all-over” paintings. The conversations and collision of ideas permeates his work.

And this leads me to think of Victor. Victor, struggling with all the bravado he can muster to make his dent in the New York opera community, taking the risk to realize his dream. I have often thought how his courage will seep over into my life with its sometimes ambitious goals that seem so unbelievable partly because no one else is pursuing this particular path in quite the same way.

Victor and I spoke over a week ago about the musical “Sweeney Todd.” The gory story features music that enchants and repulses as it draws you in. This night we were talking about the haunting ballad “Johanna”. I commented that I love this song- it always gets drawn out in my mind leaving me to wish that they would sing more of it. Victor begins talking about what’s going on in the musical score to tell the story musically. We agree that we are left wanting more of Johanna just as Sweeney, the judge, and Anthony can never have enough of her.

I remember a conversation with Olga at “Madame Butterfly” late last year where we wondered aloud how spirituality can shape art, how we can allow both to speak to each other as if in dialogue and what the output resembles. We spoke of the sacrifices required to engage our mediums more fully and how life’s paths can take us in very different directions than we intended.

My opera friends and our conversations of craft energize my art. Like Pollock and O’Hara, let the permeation continue unabated.


  1. “Here, here!” . . . raising my glass to crosspollination, mutli-faceted friendships and interdisciplinary growing experiences connecting friends/artists/colleagues in interesting and unpredictable ways.

  2. I wrote about the O’Hara lecture as well. It was one of my favorites, and it’s got me thinking that I really need to read more O’Hara… not to mention see more visual art. Maybe I will work these in when the thesis is done.

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