Geometry Rebreathes

why it was only a few short years ago, he said
when you were just a slip of a girl

but now I am the eternal flame in your hearth
the buffalo chip of your home fires

and I’m watching my back
watching my step
letting them move all the way in
as I watch the closing doors

and I’m watching my weight
minding my manners
watching the river flow

and I’m scanning the horizon
waiting for sunrise

waiting for you to change your mind

for the tipping of your hat
the changing of the guard
the next big thing

my lucky break

and I am waiting to strike
until the iron is hot

and I’m searching for the apple that’s ripe
the ever-bearing orchard
the inevitable circus tent where you will be the one
who is jumping through the many-colored hoops

of fire

and it makes no difference

to the crust of the earth
the flow of the tides
the course of events
or the face of history

but I am waiting for the avalanche
that is bound to release me
and I know that it is coming
any day now

any

day

The Eternal Flame in Your Hearth © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Letting Them Move All the Way In © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Searching for the Ever-Bearing Orchard © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Scan the Horizon © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The Course of Events © Catherine Rutgers 2020

My Lucky Break © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Until the Iron Is Hot © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The Flow of the Tides © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The Crust of the Earth © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Jumping Through the Many-Colored Hoops © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Bound to Release Me © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The poem is “A Slip of a Girl” from my illustrated chapbook no angel: the rock-and-roll icon woman who just wasn’t anybody’s mother, created in October 1994.

I started working with the idea for geometrical abstracts on Friday, April 3rd. Today, I was ready to name the chosen pieces for this post, when fragments from the poem flashed into my memory. Now, the text is a prelude to the art. It’s always an interesting trip.

Words and images by Catherine Rutgers © April 2020

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Landswept Vista (alternative landscapes for April 2020)

Spring Arrives © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Freshly Swept Sunrise © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Waterglow Pond Edge © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Sweet Blush from Inside the Flower © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The Landswept Vista © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Images by Catherine Rutgers © 14 April 2020

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Anticipation

Rebreathe © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Inkling © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Ancient Zero Nine-Nine-Four © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Ten-Ten © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Maxxed © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Revolution X © Catherine Rutgers 2020

On Pause © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Flowing or Flowing Out © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Tension Attention © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Assumptive Tilt (Rare and Archaic) © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Divided © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The Fervent Matter © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Elusion in Wonderland © Catherine Rutgers 2020Photos taken on July 1, 2008, between 7:18 and 7:22 p.m. Somewhat in the original sequence, sometimes adjusted to tell a story.

The first image was software-filtered (Gaussian blur). The motion in all the others came from moving the camera.

This plotline is not yet resolved.

Catherine Rutgers © 2020

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Hot Wheels! The Artistry of Karolina Polak

The Artist at Work - Karolina C. Polak 2019

Karolina Polak, at the Boys & Girls Club Car Show, Clifton, NJ, September 2019. Photo © Grazyna Polak

Karolina Polak, a.k.a. KAR, creates luminescent drawings of cars as well as intricate paintings on actual cars. Trucks, too.

Here’s the artist’s introduction to her work: “So, to start off, you may wonder (or not at all) how I came to do what I do. Drum roll, please … hotwheels. That’s it, those little tiny toy cars are what started me at a very young age to loving anything and everything automotive. My mother, god bless her soul, says all the time ‘I should of just bought you dolls’. Those 5-packs of hotwheels were cheaper than one Barbie for us back then. But, hey, I’m not complaining now.

“After those toys, my father taught me how to change tires, and by the age of 6, I think, I was already doing engine work with him on his Caddy. That’s pretty much where this came from … The art part, well, that little piece belongs to a woman named Cathy, she lived across the hall back when I lived in Brooklyn. My guess is she saw something in me being an artist herself and she just let me explore different mediums in her apartment. The best part is to this day she still has my art work from back then. From then on I’ve been self-taught, mostly.

“The other person that helped not only with my artistic abilities but also got me through high school (which was dreadful) was Maria, my lovely and amazing art teacher that just let my mind go wherever it wanted to. To this day, she’s like my second mom.”

Now, a collection of KAR’s four-wheeled art stars … Beasty Orange, That S2000, The Rustang, Sky McLaren, Sunset Foxbody, and her personal truck – the exquisite 1993 Nissan D21, acquired for free, cherished because it is lowered and tiny, sanded down, primered white, and then painted with celestially delicious detail.

Beasty Orange © Karolina C. Polak 2020

That S2000 © Karolina C. Polak 2020

The Rustang © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Sky McLaren © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Sunset Foxbody © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Her 1993 Nissan D21 © Karolina C. Polak 2020

KAR also expresses an ominously romantic landscape, in her large, freestanding paintings (acrylic, glow-in-the dark, and oil paints). It’s a rugged place I recognize well. You hit the proverbial wall. Disconnected. Lost. Seemingly forever.

Three Paintings © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Yet resistance is not futile. You take a tip and grab some power, ultimately knowing this: we were born to live. And hot wheels rule.

All artwork © Karolina C. Polak 2020

Ms. Polak’s newest work appears at www.instagram.com/autosbykar. Though she now resides in New Jersey, splendidly, we still get to see each other every once in a while.

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Herstory’s Fragments: Postcards of the Space Monkey/French Kiss plus SOTVC era, 1988-1999

Whispering Invitation © Catherine Rutgers 1987 and 2020They were labors of love, deeply personal yet public, mostly designed by hand, and dependent on access to a very cool copy shop.

They were more love note than publicity as practiced in the current century. No email address, no website. They don’t tout an event, they’re valentines or happy new year or spring equinox or may day. I liked not using capital letters when you’re supposed to. I always spelled always as allways. Ragged edges, odd sizes, suggest some editions were cut by hand, on a kind-of-scary cutting board.

I wanted to connect. And I did. A few readers might even remember them.

The first year, 1988, reflected my long-term love of drawing freehand squiggles (there’s a sample above). Photocopied onto cardstock, they’re cryptic maps to a destination no longer recalled or perhaps never known. Adorned with spray paint, through a stencil and also not. Then a final touch of gold ink, from a pen with a ball bearing inside that makes a satisfying sound as it stirs up the liquid gilt.Hold On 002 © Catherine Rutgers 1988 and 2020

Season's Greetings 1988

Hold On 001 © Catherine Rutgers 1988 and 2020

1989 was an odd choice. The clip art is for “Summer,” the greeting unremarkable, and the stamp inexplicable. (Buffalo Bill, really?) Drops of silver spray paint (snow?) made it worse. But it was exciting to watch a designer friend of mine create the layout and place the text—hot wax, X-Acto knife—her profession was physically demanding.New Year Peace and Joy 1989

Stamped 1989

 

Three years later, I rallied back to making postcards and making them from original art, with a concept. Four corners, cut from one intricate piece. Each person received one part, though there wasn’t any way for them to know that.Original Heart 1992 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

To Be Here 1992 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Glad 92 001 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Glad 92 002 © Catherine Rutgers 20201993’s image reverted to collage from appropriated sources. A full-page photo of an installation by Hiroshi Teshigahara, in 1989. [1] Plus more vaguely Victorian clip art.

I don’t know what made me think this was OK. Nor could I pinpoint what event conjured Tommy James and the Shondells—but that band is always good for a shivery romance jolt, isn’t it? Crimson and clover forever.

This card also has four versions, but there isn’t much drama between them. The silver paint was applied in two brushstrokes. I had the good sense not to include a signature.Happy Valentine 1993

Crystal Blue 1993 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

1994 is irrepressibly simple and fresh.

Irrepressible Spirit 1994 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

What was used to create the type is hard to trace. There are no computer files for any of these cards. By 1989-1990, I had learned how to “word process” and was a happy explorer in the land of XyWrite. [2] This text, however, looks like Quark, which I definitely knew how to play with as of 1994, possibly earlier.

Shine On 1994 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

In 1995, I decided to tweak the “Love is …” cliché, which no doubt keeps on cropping up in a juggernaut of what are now known as “memes” though I’m not going to search to verify because I just don’t have the stomach for it. A gold-ink pen was used to add my famous squiggle and fill in two symbol boxes on the front plus place a little heart over the word “happy” on the back. The stamp, this time, is on point.

Have you noticed how gorgeous many new stamps are? If not, check them out. Maybe even send somebody something. I still pop some bills in the mail just for the opportunity to place a stamp on an envelope and hope someone, somewhere enjoys looking at it.

Love with a Twist © Catherine Rutgers 1995 and 2020

LOVE Stamp 1995

Valentine from Space Monkey 1995 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Back to spray paint in 1996, and two different colors for the cardstock!! I also got extravagant in the message theory, with a straightforward definition of strength coupled to a not readily apparent belief that utopia is ever to be worked toward, not achieved. Soft-core anarchist in the house.

Strength Means Taking Care 1996 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Space for Freedom 1996 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Be Perfect 1996 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

1997’s card shows how purple paper tends to fade and there’s a lot to be said for allowing yourself to be flexible when it comes to celebrating holidays. Just a hint of clip art here, confined inside spray-painted paper cutouts. The poetry still rings true, though now through a murmur of seasons gone awry and butterflies disappearing from the planet.

Making Space Lavender © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Making Space Lemon © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Equinox Kiss 1997 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

The next to last year, 1998, was the most spectacular in every way. [3] 400 cards printed, message on the back, simple signature on the front. Took a six-sided nut and set it on a card, then sprayed it with Krylon in three colors—two fluorescent and a semi-gloss grape. All kinds of insane, lovely things happened in the mix, and it’s really, really hard to choose which ones to show. Yet I will.

SOTVC Touch One 1998 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Sign of the Vibrating Colors (SOTVC) makes her first appearance here. Pre-postcard working notes: “What are your signals? … Zodiac Cat … Resonate.” [4]

Iron Butterfly 1998 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Once I made the commitment to create hundreds of small paintings, Touch of Grey was a tour de force. I was determined the cards would be postmarked May 1st, and they were. Finished the night before, subwayed to the Post Office (the iconic James A. Farley Building), walked in a bit before midnight, stepped up to the window, handed them over in open-topped boxes, and the teller exclaimed, these are beautiful. They were.

Posted on May 1st 1998

SOTVC Touch Too 1998 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

SOTVC Touch All 1998 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

When 1999 rolled around, you can kind of tell I’m rolling into other things. On the verge of immersion in cyber world, actually. Now how did that happen?

Seek Grace 1999 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

Find Each Other 1999 © Catherine Rutgers 2020

 

[1] The hijacked photo used for 1993’s collage appears in an article by Janet Koplos, “Through the Looking Glass: A Guide to Japan’s Contemporary Art World.” I have the original pages, but there’s no magazine name and no credit for the photograph, which proves to be elusive. Fortunately, other documentation of Teshigahara’s work in ikebana abounds, for example, Sogetsu Foundation, “Hiroshi Teshigahara: The 3rd Iemoto 1927-2001,” 2010, www.sogetsu.or.jp/e/about/iemoto/hiroshi and, especially, Sogetsu Kai Foundation, “Exhibition Catalogue: Hiroshi Teshigahara,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, 1989, www.mmca.go.kr/upload/temp/2018/01/2018012212083815414007.pdf.

[2] On the beauty of XyWrite: Amy Virshup, “The Xy Files,” Salon, August 25, 1998, www.salon.com/1998/08/25/feature_287. I loved it for writing because there was nothing on the screen except a cursor and green or amber text shining through a black background. Seriously poetic.

[3] People who received the card in 1998 called and wrote notes … “Your postcards are beautiful; please find reason to write about the summer, fall and winter so I can get mail from you four times a year.” “I feel empowered, girlfriend.” “It will be a treasured part of my postcard collection in the rack on my wall.” “Where the blue meets the purple, it looks like the eye of a peacock feather. It’s just spectacular.” “I’m going to frame it.”

[4] If you’d like to read more about the self-identities, check out SOTVC: The Violet and Green Edition.

Postcard Box © Catherine Rutgers 2020

To everyone who is, has been and will be part of this, even if we don’t allways know how: you light up my life.

Words and images by Catherine Rutgers © 2020

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