Click this YouTube link to for a one minute video I made.

https://youtu.be/RIMXWuzGOQc

It will explain how & why I created this score.

Autumn Zen

Posted: October 3, 2022 in asemic, drawing, poetry
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Asemic Autumn

AUTUMN ZEN

Conscious of each breath, my limbs extend outward
My spine is supine, horizontal on the floor
The room is empty, quiet, lit by the morning light

With open eyes, I move each finger tip on both hands
In succession, pressing onto the tip of each thumb.
I tighten fingers into fists, then flex them out again

My knees draw up as a pair as a breath flows in
They move to one side as a breath flows out and
Back to center as a breath flows in; back & forth we go

In synch with the next breath in, arms splayed out, palms up
My heels push into the floor to raise my hips 
My shoulders roll back, pressing into the floor

Feeling as if a friend were massaging my shoulders,
I think how easily the word “massage” could become “message”
Is my body is giving me a message?

Standing up straight, shoulders back, chin straightening my neck,
A deep breath in lightens my head
My feet root firmly on the floor as my breath flows out

I walk with purpose through the door and
Breathe deeply the fresh chilled air outside,
Yet I feel the rays of the sun warm my skin

Now, as I clean out dead foliage from the peony patch
I realize I’m removing the past to prepare for the future
While staying put in the present -  breathing in and out

September 2022  			  C. Mehrl Bennett

A Duck Out of Water

Posted: September 16, 2022 in Uncategorized
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by C. Mehrl Bennett (2nd version July 2022)

Rat Tales

Posted: August 5, 2022 in poetry
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Rat Piles

The traffic rats are more hers than his

Terrified of being trapped by a cat

These rats are quick and evasive

Their nostrils alive for feline smells or

Take-out food for back at the nest

This house has other types of rat nests

To-file piles or To-do piles, either active or abandoned

Technically, she hopes to get back to them at some point or

T’other, if only her rats were industrious little elves

That could follow directions—she could clear it out

Today to make space for more imaginings

Though the industrious rats are more his than hers

C. Mehrl Bennett – August 5, 2022

In early June 2022 I put together a twenty minute video to present via Zoom to that month’s ZMAG [Zoom Mail Artists Group] meeting of mail artist colleagues. After the zoom meeting I made it public at my Vimeo and at my YouTube sites. YouTube might be a better format for smart phone viewing. (?)

https://vimeo.com/718054491 or https://youtu.be/2Adr6kp3Leg

As such, it doesn’t provide much context for those not familiar with what mailart is, or the history behind mailart. In addition, more back ground information and identifying information for many of the earlier images presented in the video can be researched at the following websites for anyone curious enough to followup:

To find the FaceBook group managed by Joey Patrickt & Ruud Janssenn, search for “The Mail-Art Cow”.

The U-Do-IT Make A Cow documentation (a mailart call by Joey Patrickt) is at http://make-a-cow-1984.blogspot.com After I’d made The Mail Art Cow video, he told me “U-D0-IT” is a phrase he appropriated from his grandmother.

In 1978, mail artist Carlo Battisti of Viareggio, Italy, created the first “mailart bull” as a tribute to Cavellini. He identified all the diagramed meat sections with names of famous artists, some of them misspelled, and included Cavellini’s name. He produced a limited edition of B+W stickers, using one of his (then) mailart monikers as identification sideways on the right side of image, “INFORMAZION”. All of this came from a letter sent by Vittore Baroni to Chuck Welch (Crackerjack Kid). It is reproduced at the bottom of a paper at academia.edu... here*… https://www.academia.edu/32631526/Networking_Currents_Part_II_and_III.pdf?

*Note: The NYC radio interviews of NY mailartists are transcribed here & give a great overview about mailart, it’s beginnings, and more modern times.

And finally, https://youtu.be/fMDfoXm8Uis is the video created by Jim Andrews with his narration of text from my poem “Buffoon Quartet”, which I refer to in one of the slides because “Ask A Cow” is one of the lines in the poem… Jim used filler material for the text taken from a group of visual poetry jpegs I sent him, using his Alpha Null 3.0 software which he designed as a graphic synthesizer/ He explains more about it in this video from a art exhibit he had in 2019 at Massey Books when he was up to version 3.1 of Aleph Null: https://youtu.be/aK-8K4w52Qs

Those NEW to mailart will find MANY websites/blogs online which document mailart calls/exhibits, because today it is expensive to produce full color catalogues that include everything submitted to these exhibits (also, mailing catalogues overseas has become more expensive). There’s always the option to apply for a grant or find institutional sponsorship in order to document m.a. exhibits in print as it was traditionally done. However, today it is more practical to document scanned mailart online, and those websites can be shared with more people than just the participants. So just do an online search for MAILART or “MAIL ART” to learn about the results of world-wide mailartist network projects as far as mailart exhibition calls are concerned. AND there are books & papers written about m.a. too.

ABOUT ARCHIVING MAILART: Some of the younger generation of mailartists scan their incoming mailart & then post it online (though I’m not one of those peeps), and who knows what happens to the physical pieces of mailart down the line. Other mailartists find a “home” for their physical archives at institutions like libraries or museums (my archive has a home at The Ohio State University Library’s Dept. of Rare Books & Special Collections). Some mailartists recycle the mailart they receive by resending it to others in the network. One of the ‘tenents’ of mailart exhibitions is that every mailart item received should be exhibited, so it follows that for a m.a. archive, everything should be saved, rather then only saving works of well-known mailartists, or only saving ‘curated by receiver’ mailart. At least, that’s the way I approach my archive. Some of the mailart envelopes in my archive might be emptied, however, especially if all that was sent were “Add & Pass” (A&P) pages or booklets, which I add to then pass on to a fellow networker. Plus I’ve also pulled out artist stamp sheets, which are often pin-perforated & only printed in limited signed editions, and archive them in plastic sheet protectors in alphabetized notebooks. Some artists might make copies of A&Ps and stamp sheets to archive with the original mailart envelope, but I don’t go that far.

Below is an international postage stamp from The Netherlands that features a cow silhouette – I added “Ask A Cow” & made a small edition of ATCs with this image (Artists’ Trading Cards are 2.5″ x 3.5″ and often exchanged in the mail in addition to the original intent which was for in-person exchanges).

Ask A Cow ATC

Another great mailartist (who happens to be male) passed away about 6 months ago – Here is information about an exhibit of the art works of Edward F. Higgins III.

Mail Artists Index

May 12th – June 5th, 2022  |  Opening Reception: May 12th, 6 PM – 8 PM

E.F. Higgins III (1949-2021) grew up in a small town outside of Chicago, IL. He majored in Fine Arts at Western Michigan University but quit school two weeks before graduating. Higgins later attended the University of Colorado to receive his BFA and then went on to receive an MFA in 1976 from the same school, majoring in Painting and Printmaking. In the same year, Higgins left for New York City where he lived and worked s as a professional artist. He was a member of The Rivington School.

While at university, his interests in painting and printmaking led him to create a number of works including play money, stock certificates, stamps, mining claims, postcards, posters, letterheads, labels, maps, and blueprints. These are all considered “non-art” or commercially produced 2-D visuals. After moving to NYC, he began…

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I’ve read the following books of collected short stories or essays with an absurdist, surrealist, or existentialist bent to them; all are first editions, or first editions of English translations of early 20th century works; all were published in 2017:

THE COMPLETE STORIES OF LEONORA CARRINGTON includes a number of short stories that were translated from French or Spanish, though she was born in England to a wealthy family. She was an accomplished surrealist writer and painter, had lived in France with Max Ernst, and both were an important part of the surrealist movement. Ernst was imprisoned when France was invaded, and Carrington ended up in Spain and had a mental breakdown. She made it to the United States with the help of a diplomat she met in Spain, then moved to Mexico, where her surrealist sensibilities were a good fit and her art was celebrated. Carrington died in 2011. Many of her stories are modeled as adult fairy tales. The stories are magical gems, composed of fantastical creatures and surrealist (sometimes Freudian) symbolism, and they all have a deeply personal feel to them, like her paintings. We were able to see a number of her paintings in a modern art gallery during a visit to Merida in the Yucatan years ago.

Another writer, Daniil Kharms, has perhaps become better known in the states perhaps because of the current trend in Russian cultural studies, but also because of the work of translator Alex Cigale. His introduction and translations were published by Northwestern University Press as DANIIL KHARMS RUSSIAN ABSURD: SELECTED WRITINGS. With stories and poems and a few excerpts from Kharm’s diary, these works from varying periods of Kharms’ life were never published in Russia during his lifetime, mostly due to the repressive culture of the 20’s and 30’s. He and others in his circle were able to make a living by writing children’s literature, and I expect he was very good at that, based on the vivid imaginary setups in these selected writings. We see, for example, old women falling out of windows due to over-inquisitiveness, or a man disappearing into thin air. Alex Cigale feels Kharms ought to be categorized with other great existentialists like Sartre and Camus.

NEST IN THE BONES / Stories by Antonio Di Benedetto, is a translation from the Spanish by Martina Broner of selected works by this well-known (in Latin America) novelist from Argentina (1922 – 1986), and this first Archipelago Books edition came out in 2017. Compared to Carrington and Kharms, these stories appear to be more rooted in realism at first glance, but with characters and creative plot lines that retain a kind of weird after-taste in a memorable way. I can’t quite explain it as “magic realism” though the stories are deeply rooted in Latin American culture, instead he is a great prose stylist whose characters are astoundingly unique. The story Aballay, originally published in 1978 as part of a collection called The Absurd Ones, features a man burdened with a bad conscience, having killed a man in front of the victim’s young son. After hearing a sermon and discussing it with the priest afterwards, he decides on a form of penance that involves staying mounted on his horse. This was, in his mind, akin to the Syriac ascetic, St. Simeon, who remained atop a high pillar exposed to the elements and dependent on the kindness of people from a nearby village for food. He’s definitely a memorable character, this gaucho pilgrim!

Vol. One of SLOW READER magazine was published in Canada by Madras Press in early 2017. I came across it at Shakespeare and Company book store (an historic English reader’s bookstore) in April 2017 when we were in Paris France. The magazine features poems, essays, art, and works that are all inspired by the contemporary Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami, a popular writer with an existentialist bent. I’ve read a few of his novels that have been translated into English, for example: The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, A Wild Sheep Chase, and Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. The magazine is evidence of a Murakami cult in our western hemisphere, as we all wait in suspense for the next English translation of his novels to come out!

– C. Mehrl Bennett

April 2022 Glimpset

Posted: April 25, 2022 in collage, Comic Book Artist, Essay, family
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OUR SUNDAY MORNING ROUTINE by C. Mehrl Bennett

My husband, John, gets up early to take a weekly pill to slow down calcium loss in his bones. He will be 80 next October. He has to wait an hour after taking this pill to eat food, so he reads the Sunday newspaper before making our usual Sunday breakfast of eggs and toast. He makes a really good omelet and I bake the bread we use for toast.

I get up in time to make my coffee before breakfast. It’s 2 T. full strength and 1 T. decaf. John will not drink decaf. He buys a liquid concentrate of full strength organic French roast from Trader Joe’s and adds water. After breakfast, I do the cleanup while he goes back to The NY Times, then I join him on the couch to read the comics section from The Columbus Dispatch. He leaves the comics folded differently from the way they arrive in The Dispatch.

I spend a lot of time reading the comics, compared to John, and I tend to vary the order in which I read the pages; though I always save my favorite strip for last, which is PICKLES by Brian Crane. It features interactions between an elderly retired couple, and sometimes includes a grandson or a dog. We have no grandchildren or pets, but I can relate to the humorous exchanges between PICKLES characters, much as I used to relate to ZITS by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. Most likely they titled it ZITS due to Jeremy, the teenage son. When we were raising two teenage boys, the generational tensions in our household situation felt very much like what is treated so very humorously in ZITS.

We have a different dynamic now, so the PICKLES comic strip is what helps keep life in perspective. In our nursing home years, it’ll be the comic strip FLO & FRIENDS, “Aging with an Attitude!” by Jenny Campbell.

Snippets from The Columbus Dispatch comics published April 24, 2022, Columbus Ohio USA

Before you wonder “Why” or “How”:

The baby should be able to say “banana” before it participates in this activity. And give the baby a bath. And stock up on bananas.

Is there an extreme reaction of disgust to the cloudiness of the water?

Are we talking about the bath water or the water that floats the boat?

I am a detail oriented person, but my sense of organization tends to get lost in all the details that overwhelm me. Still, I enjoy the challenge of finding something I didn’t know I was looking for as I try to deal with a situation. “Serendipity” is the word I am looking for.

When we are told to “Keep your eye on the ball”, I have half a mind to ask, “Which ball?” Oh wait, we were talking about the bathwater, or maybe the water that floats our boat.

OK, another point to make about the bathwater is that it might be compared to negative feelings about the banana project we are preparing for or simply a first negative impression about someone or something.

Were one to act on impulse in regard to that negative feeling, one might regret it later; when after a good night’s sleep or simply given another chance to change one’s mind, the activity would occur in objectivity.

What I mean to say is, “Don’t throw the baby overboard” when you row the baby out with the bananas, but it’s OK to throw out the dirty bathwater.

C. Mehrl Bennett March 22, 2022

Author note: This is an edited version of my original 20 minute *glimpset, “Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater”. I revised it after reading a short story where someone is overheard saying, “Send me a postcard when the baby can say ‘banana’.” (end of a short story authored by Alexander McCall Smith)

  • See my previous post from October 2021 for more information about what “glimpset” referrs to.