Art Friends

In loving conversation.

Dear friend.

Caro mio.

Fellow artist.

How good it is to share this devotion.

Let me soothe your self-doubt, and you can remind me that I am not invisible.

Let us venture forth, co-conspirators in these dangerous, obsessive, sometimes gallant adventures in our separate mediums. 

Here is a womb for your thoughts.

Here is a loving gaze.

Here’s company in your distaste for certain fashions of the moment.

Let us be proudly unfashionable, together! 

Alas, confidence ebbs.

My love, let this encouragement flow.

A reminder: to nurture those odd traits most vulnerable to misunderstanding among strangers.

Also, here is a spicy retort! Now passionate disagreement! Tart reply!

Stand with me, friend, when the wasteland offends to the point of nausea.

By the way, why must you be great? Why not be more like yourself?

You know, sometimes you need to forget this pious improvement.

Remember to play. Eat!

You notice I am silent when you speak.

Because with you, dear, there is just so much to watch!


I don’t know why a query about hyperbolic surfaces led me to Joel Salzburg’s article, “The Rhythms of Friendship in the Life of Art: The Correspondence of Bernard Malamud and Rosemarie Beck,” but I was intrigued to read about the long friendship, lived mostly through letters, between the American novelist and the abstract expressionist painter (Salmagundi, Fall/Winter 1997). Several phrases above are adapted from the excerpts and commentary provided by Salzburg.

Between Friends

Notes for a feast.

Collect the fallen fruits of old labors by the light of a full moon. Wade in the water to rinse, then pat dry. Meanwhile, dice the insults, the past indignities, the collected impossibilities and memories of grade school wounds, lost pets, and burned skins. Steam gently on low heat. Now return to the bowl of hopes set aside to rise in a dark place. Knead vigorously on a floured surface for the length of three songs, longer if desired. Set to rise again. Cover and repeat. We’ll score it eventually, with some symbol of our own invention. We’ll bake it golden, display it on a special tray, cut into it while it’s still crackling hot, pass out fat slices to all assembled and serve it with the good butter. Mouths water at the dream, but don’t worry, there is bread already made. It’s on the table right now. We won’t be hungry. It is good to be kneading this together, this now and coming communion. May the nourishment of the earth be yours.


Inspired by John O’Donohue, who taught me the Celtic term Anam Cara, loosely translated as “soul friend.” And by my soul’s friend. The italicized line above is from O’Donohue’s poem “Beannacht” (Gaelic for “Greetings”).