Friday, July 10, 2009

Cross-Pollination: Claudel, DeCamp, and Beattie

When I was seventeen, a postcard came in the mail (must have been early fall) of El Beso, by Rodin. I fell in love with the sound of the sculptor’s name. I wouldn’t end up in Paris for another 17 years, but when at last I stood in the glass-latticed house and looked at those white marble pairs of lovers held in the palm of the god who made them, I remembered my first encounter with El Beso.

Haunted by having seen the movie Camille Claudel (a version of Claudel’s struggle to master her own sculpture in the company of Rodin: his part in the tapestry of her successes, losses, her later failing mental health), I sought out her work in Rodin’s museum. In the room dedicated to her, I delighted in The Wave, a small study of three bathers frolicking in the water: sturdy-thighed women capable of a good snort when they laugh (1897, marble, onyx and bronze). Keenly aware of the energy emanating from our culture’s anorexic images (magazine covers, billboards, movies, etc), I found solace in those three strong life-like women.

Another image that lived in my home for several years quietly speaking to my subconscious was a painting titled The Rescue of Ophelia (by Christine DeCamp. A massive leaf borders the body of the floating Ophelia as she cradles in her arms an owl, Shakespeare’s last word trumped by DeCamp’s alternate reality. One day, at my desk, I found Ophelia—no longer mere victim, but a complicated woman with more than one possible past and future--had a thing or two to say. I fired the poem off to DeCamp who hung it on the wall with the original painting at one of her openings.

I live for such cross-pollinations. And for the inspiration which hidden worlds provide. Which leads me to the talented Beattie women, and the story of other images soaking into the ethers of my home. One is a photograph by Robyn Beattie of the swirling, scalloped ruffles of escargot begonias. Another is a photograph of a mermaid sculpture by Ananda Beattie (July 9, 1958-June 2, 2008). Ananda’s sea-girl gives me a dual sense of strength and vulnerability—thick ruts of clay hair stream down the mermaid’s back, her tail spooled thickly inward, chin thrust skyward, a maze of sea-salt across her chest. Sister Robyn took the photograph. Missing Ananda, we share a love of the image. And we play onward...from sculptor to photographer to poet...I’m back at my desk, urged there by other presences to record things left unsaid, with a new series underway, thanks to the manifest visions of Claudel, DeCamp and most recently, the Beattie sisters.

*******************************************************Robyn Beattie’s photography (Hidden worlds—A closer look at tiny treasures) will be featured in the show: “surface, detail LINE and rhythm” at the Graton Gallery 9048 Graton Road, Graton CA.

July 7-August 16, 2009
To view more of Robyn's photograpy:
To view The Wave as well as background information about Claudel’s other “sketches from nature” characterized on this Detroit Institute of Art web-site as “poems of intimacy”:

Christine DeCamp’s paintings can be found at .

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