Unfinished Business

Matters of making sense.

There is a sculpture in the center of our circle. We look, and when the speaking begins, it becomes clear that while we have been looking toward the same object in space, we have not seen the same sculpture.

It has often been assumed that when the eye sees, the spirit will know, but knowing is a palette, not a product.

One of us had a question. When working, how much of a given environment do you censor to meet what demands? He saw no difference between painting and sculpture, the idea being that any picture is a living thing, sculpted by changes imposed from outside, and never done.


Inspired by American sculptor David Smith. The italicized question above is his.

Casting the Reach

Bodies in moving clay.

When the artist tunnels naked through clay, one result is this: an elemental frame of bone-white force, stilled in the moment of its most violent eruption. She’s never sure what she’s made.

Not until I remove it from its casing, she says. Here, for example, are some heads. They are made of the impressions of hands.  From these, a sculptor thinks. Most of her bodies are headless.

Here is an arm. It points toward a dense nebula, adjusting as the planet beneath it spins, its constant movement borne of an intention to remain still.


This post is assembled from phrases and images found in this recent BOMB article by Brecht Wright Gander profiling Juliana Cerqueira Leite, whose DECAPITAR is on view at New York City’s PROXYCO until October 29.

Questions of Measurement

The reach of an image.

How do you find a painting?

There is a process. Look. Cut. Collect. Look. Repeat.

Does it always work?

Nothing does.

Whose dream is this world, and how did we get here?

How do you handle accumulation with care?

How does an image become a backbone, 

and how much will it hold?

Consider some rites of passage.

What are the rites of the soul?

When the oracle shares a meal with the nurturer, 

what do they discuss?

And who cleans after it’s done?

An architect and a protector meet at a well. 

Who is the first to offer?

How do you paint with the materials of a given day?

If the soul is a translucent heart, beating, what is

the reach of its vessels?


Inspired by the mixed media art of Amber Robles-Gordon

Interested Party

Notes on the hero artist.

We who knew him called him friend, and we did this with relief, in celebration. Look, we were saying, there are still some who make their own rules. It is still possible to live a dream.

No, he would say, it is not possible. Only necessary. As he saw it, this was the point.

Why would he spend so long, some wondered, in certain conversations? We could not pull him away, and all he had to say for himself was, it was all so interesting.


Adapted from comments made by Betsy Sussler in celebration of the life of Michael Goldberg, appearing in BOMB’s Summer 2008 feature, In Memoriam: Michael Goldberg.

In Passing

Overheard between dreamers.

You look cold. Here’s a bonfire. I’ve been carrying in around in my chest all this time. 

You sure?

Take it. Really, I have no use for it but this.

Thanks. I keep falling into wells.

But you always climb out, yes?

Yes, but wet and cold.

I am trying to be more of a tree, really. But the fire keeps getting in the way.

Hmmm. How?

I mean to put down roots and draw some order from––everything, which is too much.

That is a lot.

But at the top, see, there’s the crown. The leaves. If I get it right, I could be a sort of mediator between the soil and the leaves.


Here. Check this out. It’s my first clear vision of reality.

Um. It looks different. Not like any reality I’ve seen. 

That’s kind of the point. 


Inspired by this feature in Daedalus: Statements and Documents: Artists on Art and Reality, on Their Work, and on Values (Winter 1960).

Out of Sight

With Italo Calvino.

The cities were born a little at a time––not unlike poems, you said––of various inspirations. You had a habit of collecting odd strangers and mythical heroes, and notes on places that you had been, might be, would tend to imagine. What happened was not a book exactly, but a geography to move in. You mapped cities of memory, cities of desire, cities and signs. There were continuous cities and hidden cities. These cities were braided: cobweb cities across an abyss, a microscopic city, spreading. 

Watch that one, you said, and as it grew, it revealed concentric cities like tree rings. Sometimes, you said, you would come across a city that would write itself.

Into what? We wondered, and you said yes.


Inspired by Calvino’s Invisible Cities, in honor of his birthday.

Lost in Translation

Meaning-makers in transit.

It wasn’t like each word was a moving train on schedule to a given destination, the challenge a matter of timing the jump. We thought our losses happened in our leaps from one to the next, like keys falling from sideways pockets.

But words themselves were the vessels, and they held their own gaps within them, and us too, but only tentatively, like so much loose change. So we were always falling out, into sky.

Another Sound

Humming, deep and low.

It was a time of release and collapse, confusion and the search for new bearings, and many painted aftermaths in words. There was much emphasis on resilience. Aspirational? Perhaps. It seemed a sort of mask. Something unraveled.

What is happening now? Someone asked. Attempts at description became profiles in shapeshifting practices: power and truth, dreaming and living, and then language. Interesting uses of words like safety raised questions.  For whom and from what and by what logic are these questions obscured?

This is what we were wondering on the morning that we left our homes to walk into the fog. We seemed to be going to its source, but we could not see it. No one spoke at the time because the words were not there. Not yet. There was a humming, deep and low. It was not clear if it came from some hollow behind the heart, or somewhere outside. Perhaps this distinction, too, no longer mattered.

Sound Painting

Holding beyond reach.

Near the end, you explained that something strange was happening. You had grown accustomed to a powerful presence. One day, without explanation, it left. What followed had more force but no face. You called it sound.

Later, people wondered if you were letting go or just beginning something new. But even when a body means to hold, so much of what happens slips through. 

Before you left, you painted reminders. You pulled us into its rough color. You said, listen.


Inspired by the sound paintings of Anne Truitt.