Monday, May 27, 2013

A Letter To Mark di Suvero

A Letter to Mark di Suvero 

Dear Mark di Suvero,

The rate of decay in the effervescence of a memory of dance and art…I haven't forgotten your visit to San Francisco 2013.  Not because you are famed.  But because the gift was brilliant and extraordinary. 

The outdoor exhibition presented the art of possibility where dance could be made in collaboration with your sculptural manifestations. Acknowledgements to SFMOMA On-The-Go, their risk taking museum in the open air expansiveness of Crissy Field, that busted out your steel sculptures in the spectacular beauty of the bay. A whole book of well-versed language for justice is waiting.  Now a humble applause via this dance record.

Your poetry event at SFJazz center only cost $10.  I don’t know who selected the poets, the concept of them was by far more pleasurable than some of their descriptives.  But there was one older man who extracted a sterling essence of your exhibit.  And I was relieved and empowered to hear your compassionate philosophy.  

I hopped up on stage, waiting my turn in the queue for a chance to exchange a few words.  Myself, being a nobody made a few of the somebodys nervous.  I inched toward an exchange with the hope that you wouldn't be exited away before my turn came.  It was my turn. 

Our exchange surrounded the experience of spending time with your pieces at Crissy Field.  You asked if I had viewed them from the ground looking up.  You seemed delighted when I said "I’ve been dancing with them".  You invited me to come dance at Socrates Park in New York.  I said I will.  I told you I wanted to send you a record of our dance performance at Crissy Field. You gave me Socrates Park address.  This made some of the people nervous too.  I didn’t expect this, just received enthusiastically. Old school, I followed through with a note card, clips of short dance films, pics and the poetry book we made.  After awhile, it was returned to sender.

Art is important.  We just continued outgrowths of inspiration into production: EVAWAVE (2015) and COMPASSIONS (2018).  And in between, 2017, a prototype installation was created called MotherPeace/MotherWar. 

Here is the dance record of my experience.

The weighty machinery installment of each enormous sculpture required drone lights in formation.  From the Golden Gate bridge the lights looked like space ships visiting.  The marks left from the machines and installment provided favorable spots for dance, flattened earth where new grass was not quite growing.

The first walk through among your sculptures felt illicit—strange. The metal brought tension in the air.  Neighbors of Crissy Field expressed discomfort at the idea of this show. It was a premiere event.

Returning again and again to understand the collaboration I would dance in. Walking, touching metal with eyes, then running through the metal beams with fluidity of dance.  Strangers joined me. 

Then for a time national parks were shut down, because our republican politicians were playing some kind of stupid hard ball about something that nobody can remember except that they flexed their power to shut down the government for spite. For many days… government functions were shut down and off limits, including national parks like Crissy Field.

We accepted private viewings before the national park service arrived to chase us away, driving everyone away very slowly.  

Your sculptures were unusual, I had never seen anything like this before my eyes in one place.  The cold hard steel shaped empty spaces, balls and beams dangled and turned in the foggy winds of San Francisco Bay.  I didn’t want to think, "do I like do I not like".  I didn’t want to read about the pieces.  I wanted to experience them, for myself. I wanted to learn them, not name them. Of course there is purpose for names and pre-digested experience that historical placards of each piece give. I read them much later.

Immediately I wanted to climb except for “do not climb on this” and yet there were seats and perches that you had sculpted easy access. The constraints of dance included the pocked, uneven sometimes marshy outdoor dance floor to shape the choreography.

Returning again and again to learn meaning and movement in the steel sculpture and to dance with them, not just in the presence of them. It took time, still there wasn’t enough time.  When the show was ended, I didn't watch the passing.  The hollow space returned, barely any evidence of the tonnage that stood months witness to nature. Only bare ground spots witnesses of art and dance and poetry with nature, a short time in San Francisco. For that time it was magic.

At the end of that day dancing, creating and partnering and being partnered by metal, I see the images of  field sky and sea, when your sculptures suddenly appeared as Chinese calligraphy.  




A happening happened, a dedication by dance to your Mother Peace, called Calligraphy for a Genie.  A dance with Mother Peace and a free woman in the US under the safety of daylight and open minded space.  No longer a Mother Peace shunned as political, time and place and dance brought her back to the natural world.  Even while knowing these times were growing more dangerous in many ways, it was knowing that I was at the freest places on earth for one moment in of our time.

(Above photo credits Shani Peleg and Lalyn Curtis)

                                                                          (clip credit Shani Peleg)

Another unfilmed observation inspired choreography.  A mother watch-walking her four young boy-children as they precisely dribbled their soccer ball in an impromptu fast scrimmage, darting like snowy plover in and around the funny piece with the hanging balls.  In total harmony not running into any part of the sculpture's high low sides but ducking and shaping in unison.  It was fast smooth cooperation, synchrony and rhythm with each other and with the soccer ball, a stunning performance.  I just stopped everything to witness that was my role.

Here are a just a few other observational notes:

Raven’s wing choreography and happening dancing with ravens and small black birds 
the winds and the redwood wilk wings made sound
flying strokes in angles of black shapes in wind and lines of orange and brown steel writings

Dancing with a blue heron. 
A camouflaged acknowledgement from 15 meters away in stillness and readiness.  It was this 6foot tall white woman greeting a 6foot tall blue dignitary amidst the grassy field and orange steel heaven and earth symbols placed in eight positions.  No waiting for hope only presence.  Two chubby tourists slowly skulked up to it—the paparazzi got too  close.  Blue Heron spread its 6foot wings and flew so closely over my head.  Its violet blue gray wings brushed Qi over me.  I was ready.  I saw it coming, formed a low contour, then turned to fly off with it into the east for a few beats.

The dog walkers and the dog shit.  The dogs were always curious about who had visited the site last.
The pot holes
The sprinklers
The paths
—the people local/international meandering, meeting it and feeling it, seeing an artist dancing with great works of art.  Some smiling for live art, some walk watching, some sitting taking it in, some running, jogging, talking, riding, some not noticing what they noticed. One joined in.

One great day, playing, dancing under over upside down leaning blending shaping shadowing,
not climbing.
What name are you?

The one with designs for a sincere invitation to climb
Stealing one Climb, only once, up up up up up up up sliding down
walking away
before I inspired anyone.

Was it Marianne? Was it Paris?
I spent time working out some great dance moves with Marianne.
That steel floor and my perfect shoes for triple spins and balances and rhythm right across from the climbing gym.

The baseball practice moved to let me dance!  Not that any words were spoken.  They either liked what I was doing or didn’t trust their ability to catch a ball.
No matter, no tension, sharing space.

(photo Lalyn Curtis)

Calligraphy for a Genie with tea and interactive poetry and dance performance and audience.  Using black silk and black silk fabric, lining shadows of Mother Peace in the grass. A passerby climbed the piece to join in the dance. He asked me as he hung from a beam "is this okay?"  I said, "I can’t control anything or anyone."  On the ground at the feet of Mother Peace the sun conjuring in October 2013.  It happened.

I hope you have the time and take the time to enjoy this simple gift experience.

Thank you for making these mammoths of steel.

It was a magnificent collaboration.

All blessings,
Mary Power

(clip credit Shani Peleg)