I keep coming back to Molly Dilworth’s in-production photos of her 50,000 square foot painting titled Cool Water, Hot Island. I love seeing the various elements of New York crawling all over the work. As it spills across the ground, New York spills right over the top of it.
When complete the painting will cover the surface of Broadway from 47th to 42nd Streets in Times Square.
Cool Water, Hot Island is the winning submission for the reNEWable Times Square Design Competition.
There is a new free space opening in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City on August 2, 2010 for writers, designers, and illustrators. It is called the Wix Lounge and will come equipped with the essential tools for those of us who wrestle with words: coffee, cocktails, and Wireless Internet. (Personally I think that the Internets should be banned from any and all studio spaces, especially for those of us gifted with an iPad for our birthday who can’t seem to ever get off the thing and get to work… but I digress). I am excited to try out the Wix Lounge, especially since most work spaces for writers in New York City are exorbitantly expensive and I find cafes distracting (inevitably I find myself near a couple in the throes of a nuclear war).
What are the community spaces in your neighborhood/town/city where writers can gather to drink and sweat and connect with each other?
A Little Inquiry into Biographees by Victoria Roberts (Chatto & Windus, 1984) by Sommer Browning
On a recent trip cross-country to move my various bits of paper and wind-up toys, i.e. my belongings, to Denver, my husband and I stopped for the night in Columbia, Missouri. A few things that are beside the point: It was the Fourth of July. War Pigs is a very good karaoke song. There’s lots of parking off Walnut Street.
In a small used bookshop called Get Lost!, I picked up a copy of a strange looking, warped (in more ways than one) orange hardcover, Biographees by Victoria Roberts. It’s mostly a book of drawings, five short biographies told in illustrations and a few sentences. I immediately thought of Edward Gorey’s pseudonymous works, but as I’m never wrong, I was wrong. It’s actually weirder than Gorey.
The creature regarded them Balefully, from The Glorious Nosebleed by Edward Gorey (Mead, 1975)
The five biographies in Biographees are all told in unique, smart, unassumingly disturbing ways. Their surreal, black & white illustrations are hilarious and strange. Characters might appear as black lumps, while the next page might have a character’s nose peeking through a curtain, and the next page, a multiple choice of mustaches. On the surface, the drawings and text are simple, but together they form something a bit more complex; they’re perfect little anti-biographies. There is the story of the escape artist, escaping any situation in which she risks being described. There is the biography of a wealthy recluse with scopophobia (the fear of being seen), told in very detailed hearsay. Another story is the wishful biography of a young son’s polar adventure daydream.
I wish I could scan in a drawing or two from Biographees or point to them on the web, but this is what’s found on the t.p. verso: “All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.”
I am a little terrified to even mention the book, now that I think about it.
In each of the stories, despite missing something greatly important to the narrative, an ending, a resolution, an explanation, in one, even the main character himself, they are full and bursting with something more important. Samuel Johnson, biographer of many, wrote this about biography, “There are many invisible circumstances which…are more important than public occurrences.” When you’re writing the biographies of the fictional the invisible circumstances are infinite and Roberts chooses the most evocative and necessary.
It’s difficult to find much in the way of biography about Victoria Roberts. Though she’s a regular cartoonist for the New Yorker, has written and illustrated over 20 books, was the star of a couple of one-woman shows, there are only the most generic facts floating around about her.
from The New Yorker, May 18, 2009
She was born in New York and lived in Mexico and Australia. A look at TheVictoriaRoberts dot com is a look at a website three baby steps away from TimeCube on the sanity scale. In June 2008, she conducted an interview for Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn and according to the blog post, Roberts’ computer crashed and all interview footage went missing.
We are all prompted by the same motives, all deceived by the same fallacies, all animated by hope, obstructed by danger, entangled by desire, and seduced by pleasure — Samuel Johnson, speaking on the equalizing value of biography.
The only image of her I can truly say is her own, is one in which she is in disguise; done up as her alter ego, the Australian octogenarian Nona Appleby.
Roberts is often seen as Nona in public, on stage and in film. Nona is the main character in Roberts’ dozens of amazing YouTube videos.
I am dreaming that Biographees is an answer to why she’s private, poking fun at just what’s important in biography, what you need to know and why. Is biography an accumulation of everyday details? Must a biography be about someone who “did” something? Lack of detail expands our desire to know and, necessarily, our imagination rushes to fill it in. I like when that happens.
In my copy of Biographees, there is an inscription:
Another book that screamed your name when I saw it on the pews of St. Bartolphes [sic], Cambridge UK, May 1996.
Fondly, Marilyn Labe
Someone is leaving some very cool books on the pews of St. whatever! What a wonderful, mysterious inscription! And, I’d say, an essential detail in Catherine’s biography and Marylin’s and the biography of the pews of St. Bartolphes themselves and Victoria Robert’s and, now, my own.
All Samuel Johnson quotes are from The Rambler #60.
Managing editor Sarah Clark reads short short fiction and poetry from our upcoming issue, to be released mid-August of this year. DB got to read alongside a ton of other great journals as part of the 2010 Magathon, sponsored by [clmp] and the New York Public Library
Fast forward to 70:00 to see her in action!
Their anthology aims to emulate the philosophy that following one’s passion can result in amazing things. Therefore, they are accepting poetry and prose submissions for their inaugural issue that explore the various ways in which style and life come together.