- Eighth Friday (Wordless 2017)
- Extreme Gardening (the 2013 season)
- Zen Storm (translating canvas to screen)
- Some Mums (A vaguely Victorian secret language of flowers)
- The Sound of Nothing (is a loud noise)
- Kitchen Twenty-Seventeen (Another Kind of Paint)
- Entered Here (Second Sunday)
- Tiny Dancers and the Earthsprung Star
- Sheer Color (Sunday Morning)
- Day One (Wordless)
- Winter’s Lamentation (and Reprieve)
- Iconic Dimension
- Follow CatRutgers4art on WordPress.com
Light-emitting diodes have obliterated the moonlight. Oh, you can still see the moon, but it casts no shadows because the new(ish) streetlights are so obtrusive. They save energy, they save money … but I don’t feel any safer. I feel barraged.
When the LEDs were first installed, my brother said that I would cry when I saw them at night. I didn’t cry, just pushed it aside. But it’s a full moon now, and this morning, before sunrise, the lovely orb drew me out-of-doors and into the relentless harsh glare of their efficiency. It was unnerving.
At least I’m not alone in being sad about this. See, for example, “Ruining That Moody Urban Glow,” by Lionel Shriver, October 17, 2015. From experience, I know that the writer doesn’t choose the headline, and this headline is misleading: it’s not just about mood, it’s sleep and health and maintaining some connection to the sky and the rhythms of day and night. It’s birds and bugs who fly in disarray, and frogs and turtles whose mating and birthing patterns are disrupted.
But there are people actually doing something about it. Much like the lag that happens when I have to bundle up in scarf, coats, gloves, and boots before taking a walk in the wintry cold, it took me awhile to find them. The International Dark Sky Association and the Zoological Lighting Institute, among others, are working to understand and explain the effects of lighting, and change the ways that we use (or abuse) it.
Fact is, the brightness and hue could be tempered, which would benefit we humans and the other critters who live here, too. More research to do. Meanwhile, here are nine meditations on the chill, and thrill, of Winter. Love, Cat
Images and text © Catherine Rutgers
This piece was written on December 14, 2016.
Merriam-Webster’s defines conundrum as an intricate and difficult problem, or a question having only a conjectural answer. Here’s one: Growing up, I was either painfully shy or thrilled to be on display. Some people thought I was “a snob.” But, really, I was just afraid to talk to them. On the other hand, as the preacher’s kid, I was highly visible and didn’t mind being in the spotlight at all.
I remember sitting at a table with my family in front of hundreds of Boy Scouts in the church gym for a dinner. I was probably 10 or 11, so it’s the mid-1960s. The scene was about as straight as you can get, which, of course means it was totally twisted. They had a hypnotist for entertainment and I volunteered and pretended to be hypnotized. Sat on a metal folding chair, closed my eyes, and did whatever he prompted. Though I don’t recall what that actually was, it resulted in the proverbial thunderous cheering and applause.
Later, when I tried to perform – flute in a grade-school talent show, auditioning for a high school band that wanted an Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) stand-in, singing solo with a local “Up with People” knock-off – I was petrified. I didn’t get in the band. My singing debut was not repeated. I did get second prize in the talent show. I think they felt sorry for me.
Then somewhere in the late 1980s, I started hanging out with poets. The Unbearables. It was great. I made art for their Assembling Magazine, then wrote and read a poem. My hands and voice were shaking. But I loved it, and did it again, and again. Eventually memorizing all my pieces and having a pretty good run at readings around New York up until the early 2000s.
There are few things more exciting than being on stage. Really. I love it. Couldn’t tell you why I stopped. That is, until a hot summer night in Connecticut, July 2014, when spontaneously drawn into the lights and fire you see in these photographs, snapped by Tom Burnett. It was brief, silent, and it didn’t occur to me that there would be documentation. Though that’s the current nature of life, when almost everyone always carries a device that records images. Still freaks me out, and gets totally meta in 09 Night Red Cat (the seventh image below), where another hand with another phone appears at stage right.
The conundrum here is that the moment was delightful, but the photos scared me. Nearly two years later, on May 12, 2016, I set them up for a post and started writing the performance story. And thought that would be it. Because they’re night shots in only ambient light, the data was thin, I didn’t think there was enough to work with to create further transformations. But the next day, that assumption proved to be wrong, and the abstractions evolved with surprising variation and strength.
They strike me as very different from the colorfields and folds that have been my focus for the past year or so. Which brings us to this question: Does the artist’s personality drive the work, or does the art take control of the persona?
Original photos © Tom Burnett, 2014. Images and text by Catherine Rutgers © 2016
A trio of fresh curves, for the opening days of summer. With love, from Cat