3.19.2009

Edward Hopper & the Nighthawks visit El Paso



Cesar Ivan sent me this image of Edward Hopper's THE NIGHTHAWKS after I mentioned in my last post that his photo of his cutouts in the window of the Bridge Center for Contemporary Arts reminded me of Hopper's work. I wasn't thinking in particular about NIGHTHAWKS, but, my gosh, this painting and Cesar's photograph of the cutouts in the posting below sure reverberate against each other, huh? Art (visual art, music, poetry--the whole ball of wax) does peculiar things to the psyche and to memory. It lives there like a virus, a good virus, and feeds and protects the imagination and understanding.

By the way, when I first posted the March 9 blog I originally used another photograph of Art Lewis. I was in a rush to get out of town and I wanted to get the thing up before I left. I used the first photograph I found on my PC, a wonderfully dignified image of Art Lewis by Richard Baron. You can see that photograph here along with a profile of Art. The photo now used is by Cesar, and it's taken in front of the Cincinnati Bar. I think this is the photograph that Cesar used to create the cutout of Art. It's also right near the alley where Art played to the homeless man documented in the essay “Sort of Lost Sad Empty Useless Old Man EP Blues.” And besides, the photograph gives off the aura of Art Lewis that I was trying to describe.

4 comments:

butch said...

Bobby...I love your considering poetry a "visual art", for the way words can by themselves conjure up passion, anger, bliss, and the blues, and the way lines appear on a page in a free verse, is magical; some kind of metaphysical resonance that is missing for me in formalist poetry; even though many English professors have lectured me on the Art involved in creating within the confines of a more restricted form. For me, formalist poetry is like what Becket said to Henry, "It is just an exercise in esthetics." But then again, if one does not study opera, how does one appreciate it? When I was 11 years old I discovered Walt Whitman and Faulkner, and I felt fitted with new artistic wings. Anyway, ain't art grand?

It is uncanny how much the Ivan photo and Hopper painting have in common, in tone, color, and content. I was surprised to find that THE NIGHTHAWKS was painted in 1942. Wasn't that the year you were born? It has been written of Hopper:
"Edward Hopper, the best-known American realist of the inter-war period, once said: 'The man's the work. Something doesn't come out of nothing.' This offers a clue to interpreting the work of an artist who was not only intensely private, but who made solitude and introspection important themes in his painting."

Looking forward to reading the expansion of your imagery in your El Paso Blues essay as I purchase WHITE PANTIES, DEAD FRIENDS. You have painted such a vivid portrait of Art Lewis, I feel that I know the cat.

Glenn

Terry Lucas said...

Hey Bobby,

Great post about Nighthawks. Have you seen the original in The Art Institute of Chicago? When you come around the corner and see it for the first time, it sweeps over you like the bouquet of a perfectly aged cabernet.

Terry Lucas

John said...

Looking for help from people who know El Paso and care to share it with the uninitiated. If you were stopping in for a few days in between contemplating atomic America as near as you can get to the Trinity Site, and maybe finding a cheap bus line to Marfa to see how they captured Giant and what Judd did, where would you drink your tequila?

Bobby Byrd said...

Dear John, go to La Cucaracha just over the El Paso Street Bridge to drink some tequila and chase it with beer. (See Rich Wright's article @ http://newspapertree.com/culture/2255-the-best-bar-in-el-paso-la-cucaracha-is-in-juarez ) A few doors down walking south on Avenida Juarez is Martino's although sadly it's fallen on really tough times. Next door is The Kentucky Club. Walk down to the cathedral, the plaza and the mercado beyond by taking a right on Avenida Septiembre Diez y Seis. On this side, downtown, go to the Tap Bar by following Stanton to San Antonio. Buy a cowboy hat at Star Western. Drink some coffee at The Percolator. Buy some books at Cinco Puntos. Walk around Segundo Barrio and Chihuahuita. You'll need all this stuff as a good antidote to Marfa. Onward, as Creeley said.