Wednesday, April 1, 2009


chiaroscuro [It., fro. chiaro clear, light + oscuro obscure, dark] 1: pictorial representation in terms of light and shade without regard to color 2: the arrangement or treatment of light and dark parts as a pictorial work of art

There I was, juggling rhymes and images for an existential sort of poem, smiling at the thought of those shoes with those words, when I decided to travel on downtown with my camera just for fun. I looked at the shoes inspiring the poem and said, to quote Kirsty MacColl, "Not in these shoes. I doubt you'd survive." So I laced up my Dr. Martens, packed the camera in my backpack, and headed for the train station.

My plan was simple and flexible: head back to the Calder Building then take the train to midtown, stop in at Utrecht's Art Supplies and walk on to the High Museum of Art, photographing whatever caught my eye along the way. From the moment I emerged from Peachtree Station and saw the Candler Building so close I had a feeling the day would be memorable. See, I am still rather new in town and it's only now that I have more time to devote to wandering and discovering the lay of the land.

On a hunch, in search of better light, I walked around the Candler where to my joyous surprise I discovered a bas relief honoring William Shakespeare. I figured that was likely to be the high point of the day and that was fine with me, but I saw through the viewfinder the bright white Flatiron Building and just beyond it, off to the left, a sign topping another building: Muse's. It appeared the Muse was inviting me to play so I, in my play shoes, quickly and happily obliged.

As I sought additional vantage points for shots of the Muse's building I happened across a game of chess in Woodruff Park, a game like one in "Alice in Wonderland." Walking away from the game back toward Muse's I realized the Flatiron was silhouetted against the brilliant black Equitable building. "Ah, so, the Muse seems to be showing me some sights in black-and-white," I thought, but I had no idea why nor what more to expect.

I trecked on and outside of Utrecht's I saw this whimsical white bicycle chained to a tree, a reminder to me of Michael Hoffman's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," wherein the hapless lovers Hermia and Lysander, Helena and Demetrius, ride bicycles into the woods and Puck leads them astray.

By far the most arresting scene on my path, however, was the sight of a monumental figure of Anubis poised as if striding toward the High Museum himself. He looked to have been carved from the night, and my thoughts turned to Juliet's praise of Romeo (III.ii.23-27):
Give me my Romeo, and when I shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

Standing there on the chaotic city street I thought, too, of the revival of "West Side Story" scheduled for this year in New York.

My mind, a meandering river, turned ack to Anubis who had collected the fragments of the body of Osiris, binding and preparing them for burial, all as a prologue to Isis seeking her beloved Osiris in the Netherworld and conceiving her son, Horus, with him. This legend is particularly poignant, I think, because another legend has it that Isis was the foster-mother of Anubis. The love of this foster-son for Isis is as potent an image as those images of Isis suckling Horus, images of an ancient Egyptian madonna.

"Romeo and Juliet," a madonna, city streets - my thoughts swirled and lead me to remember a song, "Maria, Maria," a collaboration between Carlos Santana and Wyclef Jean.

Back home I marvelled at the fun I'd had following the Muse, but I wondered for quite some time, "Why me? Why black-and-white?" Imagine how I laughed when I finally realized that in yielding to the Muse's whisper, "Come on. Show me. Let me see what you would do," and drafting a poem featuring black-and-white shoes, the Muse decided to show me - in black-and-white- just what she would do!


Di Mackey said...

Beautiful post, I loved the voice that meandered through the city, taking marvellous photographs, musing amazing thoughts, finding fabulous sights.

Isis ... my daughter had a pony called Isis.

Barbara said...

What a stunning name for a pony! I love it. I'm so glad you liked the post, Di - I had such a blast that day and the people were so nice. I was so engrossed in shooting the bicycle that it took me awhile to realize people had stopped to let me do it.