Friday, January 21, 2011

Translating poetry into hats with Robert Van Dillen

This week, I finally delivered the last piece from our 2010 Art Invitational. The piece was "Fedora sensation" by Robert Van Dillen. Like all pieces submitted for our Art Invitationals, it is titled from language in the poem we were scoring -- in this case, Jack Ruby's America by Missouri poet laureate David Clewell. At one point in the poem, Clewell says that Ruby -- who killed Oswald, who had been charged with killing John F. Kennedy -- was a "Fedora sensation".

 The buyer was Julie Malone, who was nice enough to pose for me in her new work of art. Yeah, Jules is quite the work of art herself. She also is a talented artist and contributed a powerful piece of her own work to the same show: "He shimmies".

"Fedora sensation" is fourth hat that Robert Van Dillen has submitted to a Poetry Scores Art Invitational. In 2009 we scored The Sydney Highrise Variations by the Australian poet Les Murray. Robert's piece for that show was titled "At apogee," a clever title for going way vertical, like with a feather.

I bought "At apogee". In fact, Robert expected me to buy it, because I had bought the two previous hats he had made for our Art Invitationals, and he claims this hat was made with me in mind.

Those two previous hats were "Her black hats. Trussed up with astral flowers" (from the invitational to Go South for Animal Index, by the American poet Stefene Russell) and "Madness put on a porkpie hat" (from the invitational to Blind Cat Black by the Turkish poet Ece Ayhan, translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat). You can see them here piled up under "At apogee".

"Her black hats. Trussed up with astral flowers" is the dark one on the bottom that looks trussed up with astral flowers. I'd give you a better look at it, but it is currently missing in action, having been incorporated into a sculputure I made for my daughter Leyla Fern that was disassembled and its parts misplaced. I did find a crummy picture of this sculpture, though.

"Madness put on a porkpie hat" also has been incorporated into a sculpture, an homage to the late Hunter Brumfield III that Leyla titled "The Clown". Here is a detail that shows off the hat.

In 2011, we are scoring Incantata by the great Irish poet Paul Muldoon. I read the poem a few times tonight, looking for phrases that would make good titles for hats. Robert has indulged me, thus far, in letting me give him a title from the poem as a sort of commission. Here is what I got so far, from Incantata:

"Red Hand Commandos"
"Self-portraits by Rembrandt"

I'll try to remember to come back and write something about why I think these would make great hats!


The Art Invitational for Incantata will be held November 11, 2011 -- 11/11/11 -- at Mad Art Gallery.

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