For you Dad

My Dad's book

The last couple weeks have been filled with holidays; the brilliant candles of Hanukkah and the pungent sell of the spruce Christmas tree; the combined sensory experiences of an interfaith household. But, as Dickens noted in The Tale of Two Cities, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Sometime between the eight nights of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve, my father was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma and began chemotherapy two days later.
A hale 78 year old writer, survivor of a triple by pass, my dad had just had his latest book, The Made-Up Self published in last October. Following its publication, it was reviewed in the New York Times and my father was thrilled. I got to thinking about voice and wrote this post which I never published, but came back to since his diagnosis. I offer it here as a tribute to my dad and his love of voice.

Birds 3, Sara Post ©2009

Voice. The singular thing that beckons us into and sustains us in a piece of writing. Voice tells the story, plays on our emotions, evokes our sympathies. What does this in a piece of visual art?

I struck out one night with my sister Amelia to visit the opening of a show at our local cooperative gallery, The Artery, and find out. I was a bit overexposed from a week of presentations at the hospital, so I didn't expect to be seeing clearly.

You know how it is when you've been teaching and lecturing too much and not writing enough? That's how it was. Fatigue doesn't seem to matter for Amelia. Put her in a gallery and she is immediately absorbed by color and form. I flit from one piece to the next searching for something that calls to me--could it be a"voice" I'm looking for?

Since voice must be embodied to be heard, which piece will speak to me? How will I know when I   see it--what will it look like? Will it be clothed in quiet tones of umber, terracotta or ochre? Or, sparkling with brilliant patterns in red, black and gold? I'm on a blind date arranged by the gallery but I think somehow I'll recognize it when I see it.

And I do. The piece is located in a corner of the gallery and is made out of clay. Clay that is rolled thin like cookie dough and cut into irregular tile forms mounted on a birchwood panel and connected with thin lines of grout. On the tiles, in dark indigo, so dark that  its almost black, are intertwining mandalas, circles with interconnecting lines that form the stamens and pistils of plants and reach towards crows who've alighted on these "circles" of plants.

Here is my friend. I stand for a long time, reading the artist's description and wondering how I can scrape together enough money to take my friend home so we can keep talking? Provocative isn't it?