A Blue Moon | red pill, or blue pill?

John Lane Images

“Moonrise” by photographer John Lane – these other images available for purchase at artavenue.folliohd.com

who knows if the moon’s
a balloon, coming out of a keen city
in the sky—…

e.e. cummings

When you look at the moon, there seems no way to discern it other than in a personal way. It seems to hang there, knowing that you are gazing up at it. It emanates “awareness.” Even for those who have the unhappy habit of denigrating their own imaginative impulses, inserting in their place a dry set of ‘objective’ facts from a trusted book or website, the moon summons awe.

Everyone remembers a story associated with the moon. And it is always a poignant and deep recollection that marks a turning point in one’s life. For me, it was knowing that, one evening, as I looked up at the moon, that my mother was also looking at it from a distant part of the world. To know that, together, we shared a vision of heavenly mystery, set that moment aside among my thoughts of her, in a grandeur gilded in affection and longing. Whenever I look up, I always remember her and feel that she also looks upon it now, although from a new vantage point that I hope someday to share.

Is this why the moon sports such a ‘crazy’ reputation? Our reason is no match for its splendor. Its magnificence defies cool, calm calculation – it watches you with the same treacherous romance as the glowing eyes of a wolf from  the darkness: waiting, still, patient, terrible, wonderful. If we think we understand the moon, we have imbibed the blue pill. And, unless you absolutely cannot resist the red, I would strongly recommend that you keep taking the blue, once in the morning and once before bedtime. You won’t regret it because you’ll never know what you missed.

The Half-Told Story

Never underestimate the power of art to influence and affect how we see our world. The better the art, the more powerful its impact, but the more subtle its effect.

In “Red Shoes, Yellow Hat,” one of several works that include red shoes, by American artist Elizabeth Luallen (1935-1995), a woman relaxes on the lawn in an adirondack chair, gazing away, we know not where, contemplating the afternoon amidst quiet reading. We ought to share in that relaxation, but somehow we cannot. The grass burns like fire. Her shoes appear more like embers giving off greenish white smoke. A yellow hat covers her face, her expression hidden. Not even her neck can escape that chiffon dress. Only her hand and chin are visible. Obviously, she is wearing a yellow, straw hat. Obviously? Look again. That hat, skewed and worn, hides something significant. It is a strange hat. Could there be the suggestion that it is like a nun’s yellow habit? Yellow carries contradictory values in its symbolism. On the one hand, yellow symbolizes remembrance, sunshine, happiness, loyalty, and joy. On the other hand, it symbolizes cowardice and deceit. We see “on the one hand” rivulets of yellow.

endless summer paintings of Elizabeth Luallen

Red Shoes, Yellow Hat, original masterwork by artist Elizabeth Luallen (private collection)

Can you see what lies embedded in the straw “habit”? Can you see them? Lovers in the straw? [click on the image to view more closely]

Recollection of love broken through infidelity leaves perhaps the deepest of scars: the eternal dance of love and betrayal, whose only lasting remedy is spiritual lightening of being. The old, disfigured straw hat of yesteryear turns, through graceful contemplation, into a corona of acceptance.

A book lies face down on the grass, its story only half-told. We are left to end the story. Is the ending of peace or pain?

Trusting in Absurdity | art, absurdity, 20th century artists

Endless Summer works of Elizabeth Lallen

At the Beach, Elizabeth Luallen. You can buy this picture at http://artavenue.foliohd.com. Just click on the image.

In this Elizabeth Luallen masterwork, a brawny lifeguard carries a robust little lady; or does he? And if he is saving her, why is she fully dressed? Isn’t the man to her right really doing the heavy lifting? Garb suggests turn of the 20th Century. And yet, the man to the right, posing like an Abraham Lincoln preparing for The Gettysburg Address, is missing his pants.  Another woman looks on apologetically, lifted up by a couple. Everyone is posing for this picture. Everyone appears complacent in the everyday nature of this moment, even though it’s strange. A little man’s head protrudes from behind nude Abe’s left shoulder blade. A bird perches on the head of a stout woman who holds either a brownie camera or  a coffee mug. A young girl floats above, before a yarnball moon.

Disgruntlement, indifference, satisfaction, affection, aggrandizement, dutifulness, or awe: each person brings a different attitude to this imaginary photo.

The picture looks unfinished. Where sky and water end, so ends the picture. It evaporates at your feet. It waits for you to complete it. Without you, all of your feelings and opinions, it cannot be full. It waits for you to clothe it in meaning, significance, or beauty. Without you it hovers, like the girl, in a half-life of obfuscation, or like a statesman without his underwear.

We all face the absurdity of life. We try to understand, then end with a piece of the puzzle. Something is always missing, though. But what? Some of us believe we have found the missing piece. But its shape keeps changing. What was weird is now just another day at the beach. The strange things in life are simply experiences which patiently await our understanding or acceptance. We need to decide whether to trust that our own experiences have reason to exist, by virtue of the fact that they happened. We need to acknowledge that the mystery of faith lies in the belief that something matters not because it exists, but because we have finally rendered it whole through our own personal experience.