Written by Art Is Essential

Art is Essential July 2021

Writers on the art that matters to them. #ArtIsEssential


Tim Cummings, Guest Editor

This copse of essays begins and ends with Georgia O’Keefe: both works elucidated here are meditations on seeing things in ways normally unseen. And that theme—of seeing—traverses every essay here like a pair of binoculars scanning a vast lost landscape in slow motion.

O’Keefe sees a tree upside down, and the universe reveals itself. A little boy sees himself in a Jackson Pollock, gently chastising all the lost magic of adulthood by questioning the older man who sees or hears nothing in Pollock’s whips, wisps, and splashes. The entirety of grief, the weight and ache of it, conveyed in a painting via Krasner’s “all-over” technique: is it trees? Is it faces? Is it jail? Here, a seer sees it in their own way. Bruegel’s flames—or is that straw, or is that sunlight—his story folding over and under, melding and melting, the question persisting: what do you see? Or is it: what do you see? Then, in the thick mist of violence, of protest, of hovering helicopters and nervous newscasters, a poet sees peace in the music he hears by reading his father’s memoirs. O’Keefe again, and her penchant for observation, wherein we see a little slice of death wrought large through a deer skull. Antlers of death rise higher than the mountain range behind it. But how could that be? Well, that’s just the way that she sees.

All of these pieces, viewed through a miasma of lenses, are seen by seers who see what the artist saw; then, worlds are revealed through these seven writers’ words. Sights unseen reveal themselves through the artists whose works helped these writers look a little closer. That’s the whole point, see. Because when the world begins to fall apart, we tend to look at it differently, don’t we? Maybe ‘look’ is not the right word. Maybe ‘see’ is the word I’m looking for here. We see everything contrariwise, inversely, but with such perfect newfound clarity.

Tim Cummings holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and a BFA in Acting from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts. Recent publications include works in F(r)iction, Scare Street, Lunch Ticket, Meow Meow Pow Pow, From Whispers to Roars, and Critical Read, for which he won the “Origins” essay contest and also received a Pushcart Prize nomination for “You Have Changed Me Forever.” A regular contributor at LA Review of Books (LARB), he writes features, reviews, and interviews. He runs online and in-person Writing Workshops, does Manuscript Consulting, and individual Writing Coaching. He is the recipient of three LA Drama Critics Circle Awards for his work on the stages of Los Angeles. Tim is represented by literary agent Charlie Olsen at InkWell Management. timcummings.ink for more.

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