When I see a Rothko painting, the feeling is akin to that moment between waking and sleep when one is delayed—happily—in an absence of category. A purity of breath and stillness without effort. A cessation of being. But to be transported to these realms by his art, I must see the original painting in person. Otherwise the image has no effect.
And this is the enduring strength of Rothko in the age of the smartphone.
Take up residence in France and you’ll find that everyday life is infused with history. If you’re a curious person, you can’t help but absorb facts it would take years of history classes and careful concentration to learn back in the United States. Here you see and touch history, observing how its effects are felt even long after its scenes’ original actors have departed.
We must give you fair warning: Upon reading this article, you are likely to find yourself checking directions to the tiny village in Michigan where Melanie Parke’s The Provincial resides. As in her other MADE columns, Holly Wren Spaulding has introduced us to another artistic gem, in so many senses of the word.
Illuminating tall ceilings, vast white walls, and shiny, painted wood floors that evoke the vintage of this place, natural light draws me through the doors of The Provincial. As my eyes adjust, a collection of paintings come into focus, by some of painter Melanie Parke’s favorite artists: this is her studio as well as a space for showing others’ work and fostering artist projects.
Despite my inexperience, what I made is beautiful to me, in part because it accomplished something I’ve strived for in my poems for a while: radical simplicity, quiet, and room for the reader to think about a single image or idea at a time. I also enjoyed engaging with the visual elements of these spare essences of language, seeing them as art objects as much as I see them as poems.