Like Trying to Wash Grease Off of Plastic with Cold Water and No Soap

In the Beginning © Catherine Rutgers 2012Vintage whines, I have a few.

It’s like trying to eat roast beef with a plastic spoon. Like designing a book under water with no air supply. Or carrying cranberry juice in a construction-paper basket woven for a grade-school project. My school was tiny, with fourteen classrooms and a library in the basement, down a narrow hallway, steep cement stairs, painted some dark color, gray or muddy green, where all the girls in your class lined up while waiting to use the girls’ room.

It was weird and scary. More so when Taffy got busted by an angry teacher as my friend and next-door neighbor was scratching ‘o’ at the end of ‘hell’ written on the old plaster wall. The thick old smooth kind of wall that was cool to the touch, even toward summer. I saw the whole thing. It was a civic-minded gesture. The teacher did not believe her.

The librarian was really nice. Were there windows? Maybe high up near the ceiling. It always seemed kind of shadowy. We were allowed to browse through the stacks and choose what we wanted to read. The book I remember most vividly had a story about a woman who spun her skin off every night and danced around as a skeleton, then rewove her skin back on before morning. I believe her husband spied her doing this at some point, though I don’t remember what the consequences were. The story was illustrated. With a full-page drawing.

This is a mood piece. But I can’t pinpoint the mood. Weary. Not particularly coherent. Trying to sort through hundreds of images for one original scan that I am sure is archived but can’t remember the name. Ay dios mio mon dieux, as I sometimes am driven to say, both Spanish and French in probably really bad accents.

Maybe I’m just bouncing off the clash of present and past.

Three of the images coming up are from an angsty collage about office procedures. They feature a photocopied photograph of a board of directors, most likely taken in the early ’70s. No idea what the company was. There’s only one woman. She must have been tiny. She’s standing on a stair step. She’s the Patron Saint of Office Procedures and I both despise and adore her.

It has been raining all day. But just before sunset, the sky turned pale blue and the clouds, not too many, were pink, orange and white.

It’s like finding the file after a really long search. Like the first day of August, and on the second, there will be a full moon.

Tiling Green Monsters © Catherine Rutgers 2012Preview Zoom Two © Catherine Rutgers 2012The Patron Saint Subverted © Catherine Rutgers 2012Minions of the Saint © Catherine Rutgers 2012Inverted Instinct © Catherine Rutgers 2012Folded Light © Catherine Rutgers 2012Mural Colors Paint © Catherine Rutgers 2012Greased Plastic © Catherine Rutgers 2012Theoretically a Winding Road © Catherine Rutgers 2012I’m leaving some dust on the scans. Unusual for me, but that’s just how I feel.
Original text and images by Catherine Rutgers © 2012

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8 Responses to Like Trying to Wash Grease Off of Plastic with Cold Water and No Soap

  1. Anonymous says:

    adore this, both the voice of the written section of this piece, as well as the photos. your voice is simply YOURS, original and precise and filled with attitude… and the photos, that green, excuse me, those greens are splendid. I always find the most variety in green, which is strange since each primary color probably has exactly as many possibilities as the next, but the infinity of greens always strikes me as somehow more infinite than that of any other color (if you get what I’m saying)

    • Hello, Anonymous, and I do understand what you say about green, both in natural phenomena and while manipulating the color onscreen. With red, I quickly exhaust my options, and the color I am seeking has slid into orange, or brown, or a color so bizarrely obnoxious that I never want to look at it again. The purples are unstable: Do they want to be blue? Fuchsia? Pink? Though I did once create a green that was utterly flat, the catalog of living greens appears to be endless, and the greens I find behind the glass continue to surprise me.

      Maybe, I think, this piece is more integrated than any I’ve done here before. You may know how it is when you finish something, step back, and check it out like a stranger. There are layers, and then layers, in this. They are bouncing excitedly and talking to each other in ways I’m just beginning to discover. That ‘o’ in the text and in the opening image.

      Ah, let me wrap now by noting how much I appreciate your beautiful comment: thank you!

  2. Great to see the like from Ellis Nelson, author of young adult fiction. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Hi
      I remember that cool concrete in the “tunnel” going to the school library. Even in the winter it gave off some type of cool warmth like you knew there always something at the end. But what the harsh reality that I see now is getting through without getting hurt was the battle.
      I stumbled on your site looking for something from my youth.It is a black light poster of Jimmy Hendrix, Way back when my hands were so much younger;and not filled with all of the things that come with life & age I loved to put art onto fabric. Anything you would give me I could embroider on to fabric. This poster at the time was not hard to find. I was a young 14 year old doing something that could impress the “cool” (guys) people.In my spare time between dodging what they now call bullying and sexual harassment I would sew.
      Honey I don”t know who your are but your art is just breath taking I would like to prove to my self that I still can. is there any way I can get just a full size copy, black and white is fine I can see the colors so clear in my mind
      The original full poster size in greenish blue satin fabric was sent to the junk yard in the back of a 1964 Ford Falcon. Ah so much for Love!!

      Thank You so much For Your Time,
      Sandi Freeman

      • Sandi, it’s wonderful to find this as the first message of my day!! Please stay tuned. I’m searching through my archives for the original image of that poster and will get back to you soon. With all best wishes, Catherine

      • Hello, again, Sandi, Hope you have a chance to check out the newest post. There’s a close-up of the Hendrix poster, just for you. Hope it works!

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