Friday, February 27, 2009

Thinking of grandfather & re-evaluating art


Happy birthday, grandfather of mine ....

Today is my grandfather's birthday, on my mother's side. He was German, and loved being German. He is long gone now.

This evening, I will eat a German meal: Pork chops, potatoes and sauer kraut, washed down with beer. That was among his favorite dinners.

I will remember him as he swiftly seemed to become an old man, listening to polka music on his radio on Sunday afternoons: In the winter, sitting in own father's chair, his stocking feet on the oven door of an ancient wood/coal-burning stove, reading; in the summer, sitting in that same chair, outside under the shade of a tree, reading.

I'm not certain if most grandfathers are beneficial or not to their grandchildren, but I think he was for me. He turned his daughter, my mother, into a reader, and she passed that along to me. He gave me my first dog when I was four, telling my mother that all boys need dogs. (My mother went along with it.) He gave me my first shotgun, one of his, and trusted me enough to turn me loose with it when I was 10. (My mother went along with it.)

He showed me how to be patient, but he also taught me how to roar. When I was a teenager, he would pass a few dollars to me for gas money so I could visit my girlfriend in a neighboring town. More than anything, he was a man and he knew the score.

He knew things only an old man could know from years of experience living life, and he offered them to me as I moved through my teenage years. I listened to him because, even then, I understood that as his life was drawing down, he was giving me an honest gift: The benefit of knowledge he had earned from living through depression and war; through manual labor under scorching sun and in raging blizzard; through the loss of loved ones. He had crystal clear vision.

Can old art be re-born through technology?

A few nights ago, I saw more in the paintings of Henri Matisse than I had seen before. I think it was more the hypnotic music and the superb, creative video used to display the paintings than it was the actual work of Matisse which brought about this feeling, but .... I really do not know. Believe me, I have a few relatives who are art majors and who practice their art and who actually make some ridiculous amounts of money selling their stuff -- so, I am not a newbie to art. Explain to me then, why am I seeing today what I was not seeing yesterday?

When I wrote about Robert Louis Stevenson last night, I saw more in the painting of his face and his eyes than I ever had seen before in a photograph of him. I think I saw his actual persona and understood him. I also saw the frailty of his body. It seemed obvious to me he wanted to show it, as if to say it was his mind that really counted. Is all this massed together in the painting the extension of him .... or is it a particular talent of the painter who produced the portrait .... or is it some insight within me I did not possess only a few days before? Does this mean art is catching up to me and running me to ground? Sort of fun to consider.

But, before I collapse completely, allow me to regain my former composure and Spartan masculinity by once more quoting Stevenson: "I wish to die in my boots; no more Land of Counterpane for me. To be drowned, to be shot, to be thrown from a horse -- ay, to be hanged, rather than pass again through that slow dissolution."

Yes, that is more like it.

Music Note: Listening to Cinderella ....
Specifically, "Night Songs" ....

("Nobody’s Fool" -- you better believe it, baby)

12 comments:

The Fabulous Diva said...

Mmmmmm I Like your Grandfather, his influence on you at the right times in your life, and your Mother, most likely worrying but sensing the wisdom of his actions.
(sigh) I wish.... (sigh) yes, I wish....

As for art, oh sweet thing, as we 'mature' we see things differently our viewpoints change, what we took for granted a few years ago takes on a new meaning today. For example a few years ago my neighbors plum and cherry trees were just that trees that bloomed, leafed and bore fruit~~~but only these last two years I've started seeing them differently, in a 'different light', taking on a different meaning.

Art can do that as well, so can music, poetry, anything that if done well can, in turn, move 'the spirit', and capture the 'essence' of a person or place or even a mood and in another turn transfer or trasmit that very 'essence' to the onlooker, so that you can 'see' into the very depths, and come away thinking, reflecting, meditating, pondering and within that have an epiphany of understanding, enlightenment~~~ooohhh no it doesn't happen all at once Mmmmm but it can and does happen.

Fram said...

Thanks for the visit, Diva ....

My mother loved her father and talks about him (as well as her mother) frequently. It was the age where "daddy knows best," at least in Minnesota. I grew up without a father "on site" for a number of years (divorce, when I was very young), so my grandfather filled the gap in a number of ways.

In relation to art, I have not made up my mind if I think it is something learned or something felt/sensed/known. With many people, I tend to believe it is something pursued, no different than tracking a movie star or a politician because an individual "likes him or her;" or, for others, no different than wanting to be part of the crowd, part of society, part of the party. They have no concept of what art is; they simply follow the leader.

The main point regarding defining art, to me, is listening and actually hearing the views of others; considering rather than ridiculing; appreciating instead of dismissing. Pretty much the same as living together.

Sort of a skeptical, cynical attitude? Sure. By the way, if you see typos, pretend they are not there.

If you have not guessed, I am having trouble sleeping again. I need wind, water and sun, and a sense of new direction.

Katy said...

That your Grandfather sounds like he was a very special man is one of the things I wanted to say.

But the rather spooky other thing is that I woke up this morning thinking of my Grandfather as well. He's long dead too, 25 years this year. For no reason that I can yet fathom, a couple of the little funny rhymes he used to say popped into my head, and I laughed out loud as I spoke them to the dog while I was cleaning my teeth.

So it was very strange indeed to vist your blog and see that you'd written about your grandfather.

Needing a new direction? Trouble sleeping? Yep, I can relate to those Fram too.

Natalie said...

Thank you, Fram,
It is because of you (!!) I think twice what to publish and what not to publish!!!
Kidding… Too busy… my work drains me. Don’t sleep well, my nights are dreamless…
I’ll be back soon.
P.S. Also realized that “following” blogs is a full time job!!! And you produced a lot lately!

It's Just Me said...

Thanks for popping over to my blog and leaving a comment. Stop by anytime.

JustJules

Fram said...

Thanks for coming around, Katy. He and I were family by blood and friends by choice. I guess that is the important thing.

Fram said...

Hi, Natalie. We are a sleepless group, it appears. Just checking up on you.

Fram said...

Hi, JustJules ....

You guys are too mean over there. Teasing, teasing, teasing ....

You might notice I later eliminated my remark directed to "the Captain." I have a tendency to say what I think, but his opinion on your site was none of my business.

Piper .. said...

Yet another poignant piece of writing! I remember my grandpa(maternal) as one of the best friends I`ve ever had(and I havent had too many!). I miss him sorely.A lot of times,I try to think of what he might have said to this and how he would have reacted to that. Your post brought back a lot of happy memories. Very touching.

TheChicGeek said...

Oh, you manly man! You've redeemed yourself...whew...
Your Grandpa sounds fun. You were lucky to have him in your life. Older people that love us have such a wonderful impact on our lives. They leave a little piece of them inside our heart that makes us stronger. My Grandma was really special like that. I'm glad you liked the art...it's great when we see things with new eyes, isn't it?
Have a Great Weekend, Fram :)

Fram said...

Thank you, Piper. I think one of the benefits of reading each other's blogs is to stir memories and emotions.

Fram said...

Never fear, Kelly. Me and that Austrian dude are take-charge guys.

It seems grandparents loom very large in the lives of many. I know I was lucky that way, and it sounds as if you were, as well.

Something special ....