Beyond Vincent, There Is Nothing

Beyond Vincent, There Is Nothing

Why attend?

I want to be impressed,
be proven wrong.

I want to know that art
can cross the divide,
be projected on a scale
that does not shadow its own beauty.

Instead, a meretricious display
leaves a foul taste and fails
to honor the work of a master.

This past weekend, we went to St. Louis to attend Beyond van Gogh, The Immersive Experience. I understand that presentations differ from venue to venue, and I have seen images from other cities that did not appear in St. Louis. Video shorts in the banners of sites for the event in various cities have a quality that I found to be nonexistent in the presentation we attended. I considered this one to be underwhelming.  It says something when the highlight of the weekend was visiting a couple of craft breweries in St. Louis.  (And, of course, a visit to the Gateway Arch, even on a cloudy day.)

The presentation was a projection of some of the works of Vincent van Gogh on a thirty minute loop in a room with a lofty ceiling, but with four walls that were 20 feet high in an area that might have been 100 feet by 50 feet. Two large, four-sided pillars stood down the center-line of the room. The projection from the ceiling onto adjacent long and short walls and one pillar was repeated on the other two walls and pillar. Both of the long walls had a “seam” where projections overlapped, creating blurriness and, in some instances, a double image. At times, there seemed to be too much light in the room.

Our tickets were for a 60 minute period, but we were advised to stay as long as we wished. We stayed through four cycles so that we could see all of the presentation, and at no time was the room crowded.

I recognize the importance of accessibility for people who may not have an understanding of van Gogh, but people standing directly against the wall, casting shadows on the projection while they posed for selfies, or parents who paid the price of admission so that their children could stand by the wall talking about who-knows-what as they blocked the view of others, added nothing to the experience.

As for the production, in some instances, the high resolution offered details, such as brushstrokes present in paintings that I likely will never see in person. Of course, the relief/texture of those brushstrokes could not be reproduced, but that was to be expected. One key, touted aspect of the event was a form of animation, such as moving stars in The Starry Night, or a glimmering night sky and a shimmer on the water of Starry Night Over the Rhône, which actually did produce a tantalizing effect. Another effect was the layering of branches and blossoms, unrelated to the art they covered, that spread and grew until they consumed the original projection. This effect was impressive, albeit tacky.

Instrumental music, some of it incongruous, played throughout the presentation. What America (as an instrumental), by Simon and Garfunkel, has to do with van Gogh, I don’t know. As Don McLean’s Vincent (instrumental) played, none of the song references matched scenes as they were presented and when they would have been most effective, including The Starry Night. As for The Starry Night, the focus was on the stars in the sky (until replaced by an animation of swirling lines), with no emphasis on the village. If the cedar, a prominent feature in the foreground of the painting, was present, I missed it entirely.

As I said earlier, I considered the presentation to be underwhelming. This brief interview regarding a viewing of the original in Paris, at L’Atelier des Lumiéres, may be more objective.

This video of the original in Paris is pretty impressive.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons – The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh (cropped here)

Photo: The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri (click image for larger view in new tab)

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Guiding Lights ~ with audio

 

Guiding Lights

Awake in this moment
our concerns far behind us,
we make our way,
reflecting on direction.

Beneath the gaze
of a thousand million souls,
guided by their light,
our path is chosen.

Our course made clear,
we embrace the calm
that descends upon us
going forward, together.

“Guiding Lights” was inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone
and originally appeared
at The Ekphrastic Review in September 2018.

Image source: Starry Night Over the Rhone/Vincent van Gogh (Wikipedia)

Guiding Lights

Guiding Lights

Concerns far behind us,
we reflect on direction,
guided by the light
of a thousand million souls.

Embracing the calm
descending upon us,
our course is clear
as we go forward, together.

This is a further revision of a poem that originated in February 2016, then revised and featured at The Ekphrastic Review in September 2018. All are inspired by Starry Night Over the Rhone, by Vincent van Gogh.

The poem as it appeared in 2016
~~~~~

Guiding Lights

Beneath the gaze of
a thousand million souls,
guided by their light,
we choose our path

Past concerns behind us,
we make our way,
our thoughts only for
what lies ahead

And as it appeared in
The Ekphrastic Review in 2018

Guiding Lights

Awake in this moment,
our concerns far behind us,
we make our way,
reflecting on direction.

Beneath the gaze
of a thousand million souls,
guided by their light,
our path is chosen.

Our course made clear,
we embrace the calm
that descends upon us
going forward, together.

Ken Gierke

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

wrapped in choking vines ~ tan renga

wrapped in choking vines

wrapped in choking vines
dry wood and broken branches
untended orchard

 life without love is like a tree
without blossoms or fruit
                    Khalil Gibran

Carpe Diem’s Tan Renga Challenge September 2018 Chained Together III (17) Without Blossom has a twist (Hineri).  Kristjaan has framed a quote by Khalil Gibran as a two line closing verse (ageku), and we are asked to create the hokku to precede it. My hokku (haiku) appears in blue.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Landscape with olive trees and mountains in the background, by Vincent Van Gogh

a conflicted mind

a conflicted mind
searching for understanding
Vincent’s dilemma

modern medium
painted frame by frame in oil
searches for answers

artistic genius
waiting to be recognized
art honors artist

This haiku triptych is in response to Haiku Review Challenge by The Secret Keeper. The short film offered for review is a trailer for Loving Vincent, found on YouTube, and was created by using oil paintings, frame by frame.

Last Farewell

Last Farewell

Avenue of Poplars in Autumn (1884), Vincent van Gogh

Last Farewell

As I walk down the lane, between the poplars that have grown so tall, I take care to avoid the ruts that had so recently guided the carriage that brought me to my parents’ home. I leave, knowing that, this time, I shall never return.

Many years have passed since my father, furious at me for decisions I had made in my life, drove me away with a tirade that rings in my ears to this day. “You are no longer welcome here! You will never set foot in this house again!” he yelled as he pushed me out the door. My mother stood at the dinner table, sobbing, as her hands clenched the back of a chair.

Decades have passed, with no contact of any kind. I am no longer a young man, and I never thought the time would come that my father would allow me under his roof. But then the letter came from my mother. She was deathly ill and didn’t expect to live past the end of the month. Would I please see her one last time?

A carriage was waiting for me when I stepped off the train. It took me directly to their home, arriving fifteen minutes later.

As I stood at the door, knocking, the carriage made it’s way back down the lane. My father opened the door, and with barely more than a grunt he said, “She’s in the bedroom.” And so she was.

She lay there with her eyes closed and the blanket drawn nearly to her chin, her breathing evident only by the barest of movement. I sat on the edge of a chair by the bed and leaned forward to touch her hand as it clutched the edge of the blanket.

As her eyes opened, she raised her hand to grip mine. She turned her face to me and said, “I’m sorry, Vincent. I have missed you so.” And she was gone. I sat there holding her hand for the next half-hour, then slowly released it and placed it on her chest.

I walked into the living room to tell my father the news, and he said, “If she’s gone, you may as well be, too.”

I reach the end of the lane, grateful for the knowledge that a mother’s love never dies.

Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #8 gives us Vincent van Gogh’s Avenue of Poplars in Autumn and the theme Leaving.
At 385 words, this is well over Jane’s usual limit of 200, so I’m not sure if it’s still microfiction.

Image source: Wikipedia

Departure

Departure

Wheat Field with Crows (1890), Vincent van Gogh

Departure

As I reach the rise, I turn to take one last look back at a past that nearly consumed me.

The setting sun lends a golden hue to the wheat field, suggesting a false sense of hope that has long vanished from that place. More to the truth is the ominous presence of a black horizon, one no longer mine. Yet, while there, that blackness was no horizon, but an ever present now that nearly suffocated my very soul.

How appropriate, that a murder of crows moving towards that blackness, earnestly cawing as they sight carrion, should be mirrored by the massive clouds roiling overhead, seemingly ready to feed on that bit of my soul left behind.

True hope lies in the opposite direction. I note how the track seems ever greener the further behind it leaves that dark past, as I turn once more to face the warm glow of the setting sun and the promise of a brighter future.

 

Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #7: Wheatfield offers the choice of a photo of a wheat field or a painting, Wheat Field with Crows, by Vincent van Gogh. I don’t know that my piece is microfiction. Perhaps it’s an essay, or maybe an opening/intro (with the exception of the last paragraph) to a flashback, but it’s not something I plan to pursue. The word count here is 160.
(I tend to see faces and shapes within patterns in innocuous items, like wood grain, the random markings on tile or the texture of a brick. The line of thought in this piece was inspired the heads of crows I see facing right in the clouds – large and ominous in the center, faint in the upper left and receding in the upper right – as if waiting on a telephone line to lunge to the earth.)
Of course, Jane’s critique is welcome.

Image source: Wikipedia

Guiding Lights

Guiding Lights

Beneath the gaze of
a thousand million souls,
guided by their light,
we choose our path

Past concerns behind us,
we make our way,
our thoughts only for
what lies ahead

Jane Dougherty’s recent post, The sun, the moon and the stars, four poems inspired by van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, focused on the darker aspects of the painting, with one exception, and that final line, “by a soothing cosmic wind” sent my mind in this direction, also inspired by the painting.

Image source: Starry Night Over the Rhone/Vincent van Gogh (Wikipedia)