New Publication: Sending Letters to Tomorrow

November 8, 2017



I'd been following the development of the Loving Vincent movie for a long time. The idea of merging famous paintings with new scholarship and a film narrative seems like a difficult task. That said, the progress shots of film still being painted were so beyond beautiful I knew I had to see it in the theater.


Key West's Tropic Cinema was the perfect venue. And the film itself didn't fail to stun. The visuals were intense. I have long thought that some artists own a color. Yves Klein's blue; Edward Hopper's brickish reds and 50s green hues. Van Gogh's yellow was on display all over the film.


In fairness, the narrative lacks. For someone who has taught VvG, read his letters and biography at length, there isn't much here that could be considered compelling revelation. I'd hoped the painting might be more of an exploration on the internal VvG. With the medium of film it seemed a great opportunity to do a POV film seeing the world as he did and experiencing it along the way.


Anyone interested in more VvG after the movie should definitely give the book Van Gogh: The Life by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith a try. It isn't as great as their Pollock bio, but it is enough to have you looking wistfully out the gates of Saint Remy.


My picture "Jacob Wrestling the Angel" was my own visual response to VvG's life and struggle with Gauguin. They were Hem and Fitzgerald before Hem and Fitzgerald. There is this strange circle of attribution, tension, and stealing that goes on with them. In my painting I wondered at VvG being the angel. 


After "Loving Vincent" I felt compelled to wrestle myself a bit. One of the most striking parts of the movie for me is that a single VvG wins. It is more powerful to stand before a Van Gogh then it is to watch people try and recreate them on film, moving.


I read some pieced of "Sending Letters to Tomorrow," at the most recent meeting of the Key West Poetry Guild. Here is a section:


Fragments of the irises
and the clutching hands
on seeds and saws and sorrows
stitch into swallowed sunstreaks
on your face

as rearranged and careful
as gathered still lifes in bouquet.
Painting a painting

of a painting in your faces; your gifts
of rose stems and leaves and petals
as torqued piano string melodies float

into thin, wan grids of window pane,
while both mirror and transparent
argue into night.


You can read the rest on Poets Reading The News. Head there now to catch the poem in its entirety.  

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