Confabulation and Rules, by June Underwood

[Editor’s note: Sandy Donabed, our good friend and correspondent, sent a post for this Wednesday after Christmas, but June failed to be able to enable it for publication on WordPress. The post below was cobbled together hastily by a turkey-filled Underwood, feeling humbled by her failure but comforted by cranberry sauce.]

This is a post-Christmas maunder via Corita Kent’s rules (see the Ragged Cloth post for last Wednesday, Dec. 19) and an artist residency. The maundering is mediated by a bit of confabulation.

Rule 1: FIND A PLACE YOU TRUST AND THEN TRY TRUSTING IT FOR A WHILE.

Basin, Montana, pop 257, where I am ensconced in an old bank building, was not at all what was expected. It was to be An Adventure, hence necessarily uncomfortable and surprising. And so it is.

rcbasinfreeway.jpg

Jer and I expected a wild Montana landscape, high desert, rangeland, full of majestic mountains in the distance, snowy roads, a landscape full of mystery and wildcats.

What we got was a tiny mountain town, surrounded by remains of mining activity. No cows, and the mountains are low because we are high. So “find a place you trust and trust in it a while” becomes “take it as it is (whatever it is), and fold yourself into it.”

rcstack.jpg

Rule 2 and 3 (for students and teachers, which in this case are one and the same:)

PULL EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR TEACHER.
PULL EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR FELLOW STUDENTS.

PULL EVERYTHING OUT OF YOUR STUDENTS.

rcbradsplace.jpg

Rule 4:

CONSIDER EVERYTHING AN EXPERIMENT.

rcearth1.jpg

Rule 5

BE SELF-DISCIPLINED. THIS MEANS
FINDING SOMEONE WISE OR SMART AND
CHOOSING TO FOLLOW THEM.
TO BE DISCIPLINED IS TO FOLLOW IN A GOOD WAY.
TO BE DISCIPLINED IS TO FOLLOW IN A BETTER WAY.

One of my fellow refugees left a biography of Joseph Epstein (sculptor, 1920s forward) so I have at least one immediate example to follow. On a two-month stay in the country Epstein did over 100 paintings (remember, he was a sculptor), close to two a day.

I have now, on this 26th day of December, finished 28 paintings, depending on how you count the really long, really failed one. This seems to be a good way for me.

rcportaldove.jpg

NOTHING IS A MISTAKE. THERE’S NO WIN AND
NO FAIL. THERE’S ONLY MAKE.

Thank heavens for this rule!

rcearthfull.jpg

IF YOU WORK IT WILL LEAD TO SOMETHING.
IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO DO ALL OF THE WORK ALL THE TIME
WHO EVENTUALLY CATCH ON TO THINGS

Good words to work by…. Below is a “late” Portal, number 5 in the current string of 6. It says to me that even without a voice to sing with, the doors still open.

rcportalvoice.jpg
BE HAPPY WHENEVER YOU CAN MANAGE IT.
ENJOY YOURSELF. IT’S LIGHTER THAN YOU
THINK.

and“WE’RE BREAKING ALL OF THE RULES. EVEN
OUR OWN RULES. AND HOW DO WE DO THAT?
BY LEAVING PLENTY OF ROOM FOR X QUANTITIES.? JOHN CAGE

rctheevangelist.jpg


rcwhither.jpg

So on this 26th day of December, 2007, I challenge you to use Corita Kent’s “rules” in your own way with your own work. Piece together a confabulation, — a visual story — part myth, part history, part lie, and see what you understand about what you are doing. It may be more than you think. And it will probably involve cats and dogs as well as smelters and country churches.

And if there are areas of absence in your story, then tomorrow is another day, and a new year is just around the corner.

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3 Responses to “Confabulation and Rules, by June Underwood”


  1. 1 June December 31, 2007 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks, Terry, it’s heartening to hear this. I fluctuate between exhilaration and despair, about 3 times a day.

    But fear not about the lure of Montana. It’s coooooolllllldddddd here. And our big brick building shuddered in the wind today. I’m starting to think fondly of rain. I wear 4 layers on top and two on bottom, but tomorrow I think I’ll dig out a fifth. And maybe an extra pair of socks. And that’s indoors. It’s a price paid for the huge windows and the large space and so I’m only complaining a tad.

    Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s hoping 2008 brings good things.

  2. 2 terrygrant December 30, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I think this is the most exciting and heartfelt work I have seen from you to date! Not that anything previous was less than heartfelt, but I sense you are really involved in the history, the lore, the present circumstances of Basin and your surroundings. You may come back a different person–if you come back at all. I am beginning to worry that you are liking Montana and that small town an awful lot in some major life-changing way. At any rate I love what you are writing and posting here and on your blog and feel I am participating vicariously in something quite special. I know you will sort out what it all means at some point. I’m looking forward to that.

  3. 3 Sandy Wagner December 28, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    June don’t you love small towns? I live in one and sometimes wish the shopping was closer until I return home to the mountains and remember why I am there. Hope you are enjoying the area. The challenges of the brush brings pleasure and pain as we travel the path.

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.

    Sandy


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