Wheatfield Near Fort Pierre, South Dakota. Photograph by Robert Clements

Friday, January 28, 2011

Driftwood and Bone

Driftwood and Bone - Robert Clements

I have a new writing space, and this is the very first piece of writing, here in this new place.  I'm listening to 'I and Love and You' by the Avett Brothers.  Plus a little from the soundtrack of 'Deadwood', the cuss-crowded, yet brilliant, television show.  I began to put East Coast music with West Coast pieces back in August, just as I began to combine my life here with who I was back there.

The space is a small, windowless, charmless office in an office building.  It's a little extra room off an Engineering firm that has downsized because of the economy.  I got it for half price.  I am here because I have been easily distracted in the gallery, by light, by love, by noise, by pets, by my own inability to settle in, by the easy access to the kitchen.  I've missed this part of me something awful.  Because, when I do this holy thing, the thing that feeds my soul and fills my head and heart, this act of faith that combines imagination with living dreams, I feel most alive.

 Bob expressed some concern that he had driven me out of the gallery, that somehow, because I can't write there, he had let me down.  Well, let me say this.  If I was not writing, it was no one's fault but mine.  One does what one needs to do to create, be it to find a room of one's own, or to choose to shut out surrounding noise and distractions in a gallery, or coffee shop, or in a house with children.  I own my own discipline.   It would be a crime to blame my failure to flourish creatively on anyone else.

We've had some business and a great deal of interest in the gallery, in ways we never thought about, but make perfect sense.  We've had two separate groups of women come in during the early evening to listen to Bob give a lecture on how and why the gallery is here.  I love listening to him, although we're both a little shy and self-conscious about other people's interest in us and the venture.  But people are kind and curious, and the gallery at night is lovely, lit up and shadowy in just the right places - warm and inviting and gracious, and in this small, dusty town, a bit of warmth and graciousness in the middle of January is a mighty fine thing.  Bob is becoming the 'go to' guy regarding the restoration of historical photographs, as well.  This town is proud of its Western roots.  In the late-ish 1800's, Seth Bullock, yep of cuss-crowded Deadwood fame, convinced the railroad that he would give it some land off his ranch to set down tracks to transport stock back East.  So, Belle Fourche became a major cattle shipping point.  And the town boomed, for a while.  Many of the families that settled here are still here, and they want their pictorial history preserved. Bob does a great job of doing that.

Shack wackiness has taken hold in the Clements/Callan Rogers household, though in a (mostly) affectionate way.  We are playing Scrabble on the most constructive nights.  We've been watching the football playoffs.  I am a Packers fan - don't get me wrong, I'm forever a Patriots fan - but, um, they lost to the Jets, who lost to the Steelers, and the Chicago Bears lost to the Packers.  So, I am looking forward to the Superbowl.  I spoke to my Dad on the phone last Sunday - we actually have real conversations - and he was surprised that I had taken to football, so.  "Well, not much else to do," I told him.  But the height of this January-ness came the other night when Bob and I were sitting on the sofa, watching American Idol - (Don't be sanctimonious - you have your cringworthy vices, too) when Bob said, "What did your cat do today?"  And I told him, and we laughed, and he's going to Minneapolis next week to see some dear friends and I'm staying here with the pets, the gallery, our awesome helper, Victoria, and the television remote, which I will use when I am not writing in this awesome little nothing of a room.   Or maybe I'll clean house.  Or record the cats' doings...  Or sing loud in the gallery, which has some fine acoustics. 

One of my favorite pieces of art in the gallery is the piece shown above.  The driftwood, once a tree, is from the East Coast, the bone is from something that was once alive - the little finial is decorative, and the dried sunflower came from our walk in sunflower fields that were shining like gold by the side of a gravel road sometime last summer.  I love that Bob's artistic sense combined these elements into something so simple, yet so elegant.  It reminds me of Picasso's bull, made out of bicycle handlebars and the seat.  It's imagination at its finest - at a child's level, where all things creative are possible, and dreams are more true than anything else.