His knots express soul work

Posted by on 09.02.07 | 3 Comments
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About Al: Al spent the first part of his career as an attorney for the Colorado Public School system. Through life events and wishing for a different perspective, Al became the Executive Director of the Colorado Hospice Organization and served that organization well for 7 years. Al has returned to the field of law as faculty at the University of Colorado. I am honored to have Al’s art displayed on the Virtual Tea House. His piece Rusty Talit especially moved me. –Beth Patterson, Virtual Tea House host

From Al: So much of my life is lived through the lens of the left brain, it’s been a wonderful “crossover” experience for me to indulge in right-brain creativity. I began tying knots (a venerable pastime for sailors over the generations) in my early 20s, but put it aside a half-dozen years later following a gallery fire that destroyed all my best work (although, at the time, the insurance payment was welcome). In my early 50s, while enjoying a two-year break between careers, I rediscovered the chest in which I had stored an incredible collection of twine. On several lucky occasions in the 1970s, I had come upon sidewalk sales or going-out-of-business sales; at a very low cost, I had gathered more than 100 spools of twine, offering a nuanced palette of colors, materials, and thicknesses. I began tying and wrapping again, and these last four years have averaged one piece each year. Two of my recent pieces, “Rusty Talit” and “South America,” have been displayed in small-town, juried art shows. When not “on tour,” my recent pieces hang in my faculty office at the University of Colorado Law School, where most visitors don’t seem to notice them. Ah well.

“Rusty Talit,” 24″ x 21″, (a “talit” is a Jewish prayer shawl) is the first of my recent works, tied during the year that I attained, and then surpassed, the age at which my father had died. I remembered that year that I had my father’s talit in my possession, and when I took it from the lovely cloth pocket in which it had reposed undisturbed for decades, a vision of “rustiness,” that is, “disuse,” came to mind. Several years before, I had bought at a neighbor’s yard sale an old coffee can that contained unused and rusty nails once intended for a nail gun. (The coffee can and its contents sold for 10 cents.) I suddenly knew that the nails, rolled, would serve as the tasselled ends of a talit. In some ways, it’s a metaphor for my own relationship with the religion in which I was reared.

“Colorado Creek,” 16″ x 15″, represents decades of hiking in the Colorado high country and my fortunate finds of discarded or lost fishing paraphernalia. The bright blues at the top of the piece were tied by me 30 years ago, and then the nascent piece was put aside. Although titled “Colorado Creek,” there’s some of the Gulf Coast beaches of Florida, where I grew up, in the piece, as well.

“South America,” 16″ x 26″, earned its title only after it was finished. Throughout its construction, I was focused on the brilliant colors of dawn. As I contemplated the almost-completed piece, I realized that its similarities to the geographic form of South America were unmistakable. Three summers before, my wife and then-13-year-old son and I travelled in Ecuador. Shapes, as well as colors, take hold within our unconscious.

For any of you who are touched by Al’s work…or by his journey…please post comments (you have to ‘join’ the site first), and I’ll make sure Al gets them. Also, if you’d like to get in touch with Al, let me know and I’ll try to arrange that.

As we enter the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar, the prayer for Al and all our Jewish friends is for sweet renewal.

Beth, VTH Host




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