An Other Room

Work by Mark Kerstetter installation view at the Morean Arts Center

Work by Mark Kerstetter installation view at the Morean Arts Center

An Other Room

Elbowing my way into the place
where I can spread out jets
of controlled wantonness;
a room like Pollock’s,
where pain and rage are unfurled
and made to dance off
the fingertips
—wave riders and storm chasers have a sense of it:
one door shuts as ten windows burst open—
Elbowing, I say, with many
“excuse me’s” and felled shoulders,
to seem less a threat (though no more
a murderer than Lautréamont), sucking
in stinging tears
to mold them on the tongue
—Hot Canton, in golden wavelets
to banner
yet another
—room!

this poem first appeared in Escape into Life

 

morean

Mark Kerstetter at the Morean Arts Center

Mark Kerstetter at the Morean Arts Center: this view gives an indication of the depth of the cutouts. The circle is an inch and a half at its deepest point.

Mark Kerstetter at the Morean Arts Center: this view gives an indication of the depth of the cutouts. The circle is an inch and a half at its deepest point.

Mark Kerstetter at the Morean Arts Center: "Ruse a by" was nicely lit with a golden spotlight.

Mark Kerstetter at the Morean Arts Center: “Ruse a by” was nicely lit with a golden spotlight.

assembling "Ruse a by"

assembling “Ruse a by”

assembling "Ruse a by"

assembling “Ruse a by”

me at the Morean. The "Rotational Series" (on left) is technically not a cutout but it belongs with them. The circles are quasi-cutout as they are rendered in oil paint over acrylic enamel fields, and look as though they are cut and pasted.

me at the Morean. The “Rotational Series” (on left) is technically not a cutout but it belongs with them. The circles are quasi-cutout as they are rendered in oil paint over acrylic enamel fields, and look as though they are cut and pasted.

My work is on view at the Morean Arts Center until June 30th, 2013.

The poem is about the difficulty of finding the time, energy and inclination to make art when art-making is not one’s primary means of subsistence. One’s behavior is modeled, in innumerable ways, in how to best save and preserve energy, and yet so much effort is spent getting into that room of quietude that another method – or a whole series of maneuvers – must be enacted to transform the preserved energy into a type that can be used for art. And then, if one is lucky, one gets to see the results displayed for others. I have found a different method than Pollock’s, but the process is the same. 

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19 Responses to An Other Room

  1. claudia says:

    —wave riders and storm chasers have a sense of it:
    one door shuts as ten windows burst open—… very cool..the process of creating has an unbelievable energy..pollock is way cool and so great on the exhibit of your own work as well mark…if i lived somewhere near the morean art center, i def. would want to visit…

  2. Marya says:

    Gorgeous — the installation and the poem. So hard just to be with it and to do it. Congratulations on your exhibit (wish it were right here at our local treasure Mass MoCA)

  3. hedgewitch says:

    Your art is even clearer displayed as above, Mark–the sense of it, the,…adjustments of materials, the shape-moving, the idea that nothing is whole but everything is holed into a unique identity, really comes through well in those mountings and juxtapositions. As always, your poetry is a shoehorn for thought, and I agree–art is hard when one has to do something else nine or ten or twelve hours a day. I stopped writing everything except a journal and the very occasional poem for years and years. Life is demanding, and so is creating–one of the most demanding things we’ll ever try to do. Hope someday you are given the full time and space that your work asks.

    • “Shoehorn for thought” – how do you come up with these things? I’ll bet your journal had some damn good writing in it. And there’s no doubt that you did a fine job of saving and preserving your poetic energy, Joy. Think of all the promising artists who just give up. I grew up in a college town and the books of visiting poets to the writing programs would sometimes find their way into the Junior and High school libraries. My best friend and I read them, maybe were the only kids who did. I remember one – the picture of the poet wearing a sweater. I thought poets were people who got to wear nice sweaters, smoked pipes and sat around behind a typewriter looking wise all day. There was a poem in his book about an artist who got married and had kids and in the struggle gave up his art. The last line was: “Portfolioed his dreams lie now in the attic.” I never wanted to be the guy whose dreams were left in a portfolio in the attic.

  4. brian miller says:

    smiles..how very cool your wood cuts man…you are certainly the artist’s artist….as to how to make time…that i think is the eternal struggle…how cool it would be paid to do what we love eh and not have to worry about that…maybe one day…smiles….elbow your way in as you can…and if being nice doesnt work well you can always apologize later…smiles.

  5. Pamela says:

    So wonderful about your exhibition, Mark. I love the poem and how you demonstrate with your words some of the anxiety of being an artist. I too, am a visual artist, well, that was my chosen field for my career in the states, but the pen has taken over and I have unfinished pieces in our spare room. Mostly pastels and watercolour, maybe some day I will finish them. Good luck with the show.

    Pamela

  6. Laurie Kolp says:

    Wow. Congrats, Mark!

  7. ayala says:

    Mark, I love your art. Congrats, this is awesome!

  8. Grace says:

    Mark , congrats on the art pieces ~ I love this part best:

    where pain and rage are unfurled
    and made to dance off
    the fingertips

    Thank you for sharing your work ~

  9. Margaret says:

    Find the set of six circles fascinating. Congratulations and glad you were able to find time for “controlled wantonness”. 🙂

  10. grapeling says:

    Somehow your pieces and piece, including title, remind me that jurors are empaneled in an other room until they decide the fate of their peer. And yet there are holes in every story. Now to figure out who Lautreamont was… I enjoyed this write and images, thank you. ~ M

    • I can see how the title might spark that thought, but am curious as to how the rest of it does for you. I will say this: the pieces are in stationary viewing positions in the gallery, but some of them are designed to be manipulated by the viewer. The two series I am standing between can be arranged in a number of ways and one of the pieces has moveable parts. I do think that a piece of art (of any kind) is not complete until the viewer (reader, listener) engages with it. This is the Other Room – after the artist has lived with the piece for so long (in his private room) it is now out of his/her hands – it is in a public room.

      • grapeling says:

        I’d begin by commenting that in my view, free association explanations are more fractal than linear, so ascribing this particular received impression to a singular or even easily definable small set of triggers may not be especially elucidating. But here goes. Some of the circular extrusions with arcs reminded me of coffee beans. Some of the panels remind me of portholes. One image contains a black/white figure. So, shipping coffee, perhaps from a colony with a slave trade. Boats have brigs. Brigs are jails. Jails have jailors and inmates and legal systems. Legal systems have empaneled juries. The accused have stories, and many stories have figurative holes in them. It’s up to the jury to decide, which holes are acceptable, and which are not. Being in the other room, one with a door which can be opened from inside, versus a room with only an external lock but perhaps a window to see the outside world. “Pain and rage” and “elbow room”. Now, is that exactly the course my addled brain took to cause me to tap out those previous sentences? Not exactly… but there it is.

        Or perhaps I’m just a bit OCD. Please forgive the ramble, but you did ask a question which deserved reply.

        Cheers,
        ~ M

  11. Tony Maude says:

    Mark, your work looks like it is a good match for modern, minimalist tastes in furnishings.

    What you say about trying to be creative after several hours earning a living is true; it is equally hard to find the energy and enthusiasm to be creative when you have no work. Seems like you can’t win either way … unless people actually pay you enought to live on to be creative, which is rare.

  12. Susan Scheid says:

    What a fabulous installation of your fine, fine work! You must have had a big hand in the installation, no? Everything is set off so beautifully. And that it is accompanied by such a marvelous poem as well (a favorite line: “one door shuts as ten windows burst open”), wow! I also loved seeing Ruse a by under construction. Such a wonderful work of art it is, and agreed that the lighting sets it off so well. (Have I used enough superlatives yet? Actually, no! This is a rich, rich post. Thank you so much for showing us your work as displayed at the Morean.

  13. angela says:

    It looks as if you have elbowed your space many times, Mark… your work makes me think of observations I’ve been reading regarding Cornell’s boxes – the precise nature of the composition while still offering exploration of context. 10 windows – may that all open at once and remain a gateway into the realm that leaves you free from pain.
    It looks like a wonderful show – thanks for posting, esp. the last pic with you in it…it helps to remember we are really real beyond blogland. ~ a

  14. Amazing how one intense collection could spark yet another, as your poem about it…. Mark, you are certainly a masterful wordsmith and your appreciation of subtleties absolutely brings your poems to life…. Your mention of lowered shoulders to appear less aggressive in the fray, for example, is certainly something all readers will have experienced but soon forgotten. Yet you capture that colloquial and very sensitive thing as though it is a natural offshoot from the center of life’s beauty… And I certainly believe it is too…. Well written sir……

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