Monday, January 19, 2009

Song One, Sixteen Minutes Long

Mission accomplished. I sat face to face with Gary, about seven feet away, and pressed play. Miles Davis and Gil Evans began Sketches of Spain with their rendition of Concierto de Aranjuez. It was written in 1939 by Joaquin Rodrigo for the palace gardens. The second movement is the one Davis and Evans cover, it was either inspired by the miscarriage of the composer's first child or the bombing of Guernica. Considering that, it surprises me that my take on Gary wasn't dark or depressing despite the pensive music and contrary to the descriptions of Ann's work, by critics I read online. In fact I felt immediately at peace with Gary and thought he seemed like someone who would enjoy the album with me, if he could hear it. Right away I noticed all kinds of places where the paint Ann used was brighter orange and fleshy pink. There is no light source in the paintings, but on the knees, wrists, ears and throat and in a band around his middle are these crisp pastel blocks. These are the areas most alive. Ann said in an interview once “the light is where the emotion is.” It isn't that Gary is, as John Motley of the Mercury said, “profoundly melancholy”, “vacant of expression” and “disconnected from the physical world.” I couldn't disagree more. It is that Gary seems to be human, and in this situation, as humans do, he has become a mirror of Ann. He is concentrating, with slow shallow breath and above all, patience. As the artist herself is patient, she is, after all, a self described "humanist".
Miles Davis said of the Concierto de Aranjuez “That melody is so strong that the softer you play it, the stronger it gets and the stronger you play it, the weaker it gets.” It was in the soft melodies that my heart beat hardest and when it began to grow louder it lost something. What I thought would be dark wasn't, This experience did not make me inward but open. I felt comforted by Gary and thought if he could say something it might be “could you please turn that up a bit?”

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