March 4, 2013

Monkeying Around with History

“Should I really be revising all my old sketches,” I asked a composer on evening at an art reception, “Am I not monkeying around with history by altering the traces of what represented a certain time and place?”

“Nonsense,” the composer replied. “Many composers worked for decades on musical scores, and had little compunction about revising.”

It was satisfying to get the go ahead from another arts discipline for my stealing from the past. Besides, what art historian will be scrutinizing my work to establish an accurate chronology? I suppose I should be accurate just in case and write down a start and finish date. But I’m simply too lazy to try and figure out the actual start date on my legions of drawings. Never thought I would forget the year I made sketches! So with that in mind, and my composer friend’s exoneration, I steal from the past with abandon.

A sketch that I recently revisited was one originally done in New York around 1989 or 1990. I do remember the model’s name because I made countless drawings of her - Zuthbeida, or Zuth for short. I made a painting from this sketch of a robed Zuth seated in an interior with her back turned. I had made a small square painting from this sketch and included it in my poetry book. In this painting I included a seated monkey, also with his back turned toward the viewer. To bring the sketch into a completed charcoal/conte/pastel drawing I added a monkey once again. He is a different monkey from the quiet one in the painting, but he functions the same way by adding interest to an otherwise bare spot in the composition. New monkey adds a bit of dynamics to an otherwise tranquil drawing by nonchalantly searching for lice to nibble on.

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