Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blackberries Grow on My Grave

So, it's been a while since my last update. Several of the happenings of the last 19 days beg to be remembered, but I'll focus on one. Last weekend, we went to an iron pour at Sloss. It was the culmination of one of the summer's first open studio sessions, and there were something like ten artists actually suited-up and pouring. There were also a handful of Old People who had participated in a class offered by the Birmingham Museum of Art and were standing behind the safety line to observe iron being poured into the sand molds they made. I don't call them Old because they were advanced in years, but because they appeared to be cultured to near-death. They wore years of season tickets to the symphony, classes at the BMA, and museum-sponsored galas and banquets on their faces like they had been stamped there by a power hammer. Their presence confirmed my long-held suspicion that pretension is aging. I dare go as far as to say that Pretension Kills. I wonder at the prospect of making a mold and watching someone else pour the iron and crack the mold while you watch. In my mind, that's the art of the process. If it doesn't require a hard-hat and a welding jacket, it probably isn't much fun. And that's my opinion. Life necessarily means dirty hands. .

I think the wilderness is trying to imprison Sloss in a tangle of poke weed and blackberry bramble. Like a battalion of slow-moving infantrymen, the green encroaches on the casting shed and the old bath-houses now used as artist studios. I'm not referring to the refurbished number two furnace where you might go to see a concert or be scared out of your wits at a haunted house. I mean the old number one furnace on the other side of the blower-wheels and towers. The casting shed of the number one shelters something like four small furnaces, several mig and arc welding rigs, a forge or two and a large crane used for the metal arts programs. Here, iron is still poured at Sloss, and I think nature wants to bury the scar of it under green tangles and Virginia Creeper. There are still signs posted for the last men who worked at Sloss in 1971. Protect your hands. Your wage earners. You owe it to your family. Two soft, white hands are clasped together under the words. I wonder if anyone but me sees the irony (ha ha) in that. I made some jam from the Sloss blackberries last week and although it might be my perverted sense of taste, I swear it adds a metallic twang to my brown toast. In the end, when all of our industrialism has amounted to nothing, the world will end under a tangle of blackberry brambles, Virginia Creeper and poke weeds. Just ask Walker Percy.

On another note, here's a very cool exhibition in Auburn. My neighbor is one of the artists. You must go.


Christian said...

I'll definitely have to see this one! Thanks for the head's up about it. I live in Auburn, but somehow missed hearing about it.

susan said...

I'll come down and see it with you.