Friday, April 6, 2012

Wole Soyinka poem curates Ron Buechele painting

"Clutching loud at plenty" by Ron Buechele, for "Ever-Ready Bank Accounts" 

The Art Invitational we are doing on May 18 at Mad Art is a little different for us. Since 2006 Poetry Scores has done one annual Art Invitational on the second Friday in November, and we plan to do that again this year. But the poems we want to score have started to pile up, so we decided to try having a spring and a fall invitational in 2012. For the spring we picked "Ever-Ready Bank Accounts" by Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian Nobel Laurate in Literature, since banks have been so much on people's minds.

We knew we would have to bring in a fair number of new artists, because not everyone who just did a November 2011 show is going to sign up again for May 2012 (even though, of course, we are scoring a totally different poem). And we have done so, bringing in a great list of first-time (for us) artists: Bradley Bowers, Jeff Brawn, Hunter Brumfield III, Charles and Chalot Douglas-Book, Dr. Andrew Dykeman, JoJo Houle, Gina Montgomery, Robert Powell, John Pruitt, Pamela Speh, Mark Stephens, Mark Swain, Jeffrey Swanson, Timothy E. Wagner and Jess Witte.

But the beauty of the new baby does not tarnish the beauty of the old, and our go-to artists are not only some of the best working artists in St. Louis, they are our friends. So I went back to them with a little special pleading.

I pointed out that we do not require new work for an Art Invitational -- never have. I personally like it just as much when an artist takes the poem and goes through their inventory, in essence allowing a poem to curate their art and pick out just the right piece. In other words, the poem need not speak to the artist; it is also cool when the art speaks to the poem.

I told all of this to some of our "house" artists who had neither confirmed nor rejected the offer for the May 18 show. To make it even easier for them, I did something I very seldom do: I offered an interpretation of the poem, "Ever-Ready Bank Accounts," to help them choose a piece of art. I told them it was a poem about hunger, greed and self mockery.

Ron Buechele, for one, responded. He said he had a piece about gluttony and a piece about greed; come take your pick. So, I went over to his studio (at Mad Art, in a former police station) and allowed the poem to make its pick.

I know these pieces. Ron made them for his Seven Deadly Sins show, which I got to see. I couldn't believe he was donating one of these large and amazing paintings to our benefit show, or I wouldn't have been able to believe it if this were not St. Louis and he were not Ron Buechele.

I took another good look at the two pieces. I love them both. The poem liked Greed more. The poem is drenched in the color red, and this painting has a number of red accents, most vividly a red Jesus with a green dollar sign glowing inside him where a heart is supposed to be. As I kept reading Soyinka's poem and looking at Ron's piece, they started to have a good conversation.

Early in the poem, Soyinka provides an incisive image for greed: "Clutching loud at plenty". I looked at Ron's painting. It is a constellation of images fanned around a sexy vixen. Bottom left is a hand clutching money. Typical for Ron's work, this is a loud painting. Other than Jesus and the one mouth that is gagged, every mouth in the painting is hanging open, as if making a sound, a loud sound. The gestures, like Mighty Mouse's flying fist pump, are all loud. And there are plenty of these loudmouths and clutching figures depicted. This painting is nothing if not "Clutching loud at plenty".

Ron agreed. We had a match. A poem that Wole Soyinka wrote during solitary confinement in a Nigerian prison had just curated a painting Ron Buechele made in a former police station in St. Louis.


"Clutching loud at plenty" and some fifty other works of art will be on display and auction 7-10 p.m. Friday, May 18 at Mad Art, 2727 S. 12th St. in St. Louis. Proceeds will be split between artist, gallery and Poetry Scores. Our share will fund a release of a poetry score to "Ever-Ready Bank Accounts" by bicycle day of Istanbul.

No comments: