Welcome to GIBBIN HOUSE!

When I first started this blog about the misadventures of a nascent author, I had only a small novel under my belt, titled Gibbin House. The building that bears the name is a fictitious postwar era safe-house, as many might have existed, and the London home of my motley crew of exiles. I could not anticipate then the degree to which I would join its ranks of writers and artists, but since publishing my book in 2011, I have had the greatest privilege of opening my own art gallery and of exploring my love of the written word through visual poetry and paper sculptures. Yet much like the girl who first started blogging two years ago, I suspect I don't know what I'm doing half the time. As such, Gibbin House remains a refuge for ramblings...and on occasion a haven for little triumphs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

ATELIER 1022 Gallery Presents KRAFTWERK: The Steampunk Engine

  ATELIER 1022

ArtVergnügen! the pleasure of art ...

KRAFTWERK: The Steampunk Engine
On October 8th Steampunk Gear is recommended...suspended reality is mandatory

Miami Beach, September 26, 2011 – ATELIER 1022 Studio and Fine Art Gallery brings quixotic industrial fantasy to Miami’s Wynwood Art District on October 8th, 2011, with the special exhibit “KRAFTWERK: The Steampunk Engine” – a new collection of photography, portraiture, and mixed media works from resident artists Ellie Perla, Susana Perla-Mendoza, and Carlos Rodriguez-Feo. The exhibit is complemented by a selection 19th Century Victorian artifacts.  The event is open from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM; at Atelier 1022 Gallery on 2732 NW 2nd Avenue; and coincides with the Wynwood Art Walk for the month of October.

         "Part of ATELIER 1022’s philosophy from its inception has been to celebrate the innocence, refinement, and ingenuity of yesteryear.  In reconciling these aspects of the past with the modern experience, a new aesthetic emerges, both beautiful and honest.  The gallery’s three resident artists are united in the belief that beauty and honesty do not have to be mutually exclusive.  Their philosophy runs throughout the scope of their work, from Ellie’s “recycled” art pieces and 3-D Stereocards to Susana’s “Acid Impressionism” and Carlos’s photo experiments with vintage cameras, infrared techniques, and large-format film.  The ‘Steampunk’ movement, the artists feel, encapsulates much of what they are attempting to achieve at this Wynwood studio, and their collaborative efforts in creating the exhibit once again confirms the sense of community at ATELIER 1022 – hence the ‘tongue-in-cheek title KRAFTWERK, the German word for ‘power plant’,” explains Gallerist Carola Perla.

            One of the main features of the KRAFTWERK exhibit is the collection of Steampunk-inspired portrait photographs – a collaborative project conceived and created on site with the help of all of ATELIER 1022’s resident artists and partners.  Although presented in two separate formats by Ellie Perla and Carlos-Rodriguez Feo, every member of the gallery contributed to the staging, costumes, lighting, makeup, backdrop art, modeling, and shooting of the witty conversation pieces.  For the October 8th event, the backdrop painting will continue on display to give visitors an opportunity to interact with the installation and carry on the playful ‘Steampunk’ dialogue. 
            Another major voice in this exhibit will be Susana Perla-Mendoza with her industrial-themed “Acid Impressionism” photographs which draw parallels between the modern and the historic, by blurring the lines of both.  Central among these is a triptych that re-imagines the most infatigable emblem of Belle Epoch engineering – the Eiffel Tower – in order to capture the atmosphere of the original excitement as the structure was first unveiled.  The accompanying stereoscopic viewer from the 1900 Paris World Exhibition reinforces the novelty of the era’s budding technology.   
            The Victorian industrial experience of the KRAFTWERK: The Steampunk Engine exhibit extends to the carefully designed music playlist, ‘Steampunk-ed’ antiques, and the limited-time presentation of ATELIER 1022’s signature vintage-inspired stationary and specialty gifts.
            About ATELIER 1022
            Atelier 1022 recreates the sense of an artistic community in a public space.  Atelier 1022 permanent exhibit showcases an array of fine art photography, paintings, and mixed media works from resident artists Ellie Perla, Susana Perla-Mendoza, and Carlos Rodriguez-Feo, and aspires to capture the gallery’s art community concept with a collection of elaborate canvases, dynamic color prints, and examples of rare photo processes.  Atelier 1022 invites art lovers to join in and celebrate beauty, colors, and rhythms in a place where art is made and polyglot gossip resounds off the walls.  Future art exhibits for 2011 and 2012 are planned around such themes as: hard rock art and music, with live bands; steam punk art and fashion show; documentary photography and short films; fairytale books and young art; graffiti and tattoo art; the history of photography; and many more.  Atelier 1022 Studio and Fine Art Gallery is located in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. Address: 2732 NW 2nd Avenue, Miami, FL, 33127. Website: www.atelier1022.com; Tel: 786-385-6066; E-mail: atelier1022@aol.com.  Media kits with further information on the gallery and high resolution photographs are available upon request.


MEDIA CONTACT:  Carola Perla, Tel: 786-385-6066; E-mail:  carolaperla@hotmail.com.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

GIBBIN HOUSE: Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and...

GIBBIN HOUSE: Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and...: Storm in the Salzkammergut, Austria Sturm und Drang: Part 2 Gibbin House: an excerpt In the few hours he managed to wrangle free, this...

Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and Me - Part II

Storm in the Salzkammergut, Austria
Sturm und Drang: Part 2

Gibbin House: an excerpt

In the few hours he managed to wrangle free, this became his main object, the stealthy strolling through of these shady fir woods.  How much he would have loved Răluca at his side then.   Watching her sigh and awe in that charmingly self-satisfactory way of hers at all the incidental wonders around them, which he in these moments had to notice passively for himself.  He especially thought of her when a storm cloud happened on him in the course of his walk, because it made him think of Hölderlin.  And Martin would break into an irresistible smile, convinced she too would have recalled their earliest discussion and used it as an opportunity to tease him.  Run, Martin, before you’re caught in the rain and descend into madness!  
On one such stormy afternoon, gripped by the oddest impulse, he actually did start off on a sprint, straight into the arms of the tempest, diving into the cascading fury of lightning that erupted suddenly, and then ever further, slipping through the hiking paths that scaled the wooded base of the mountains, shivering cold and slipping clumsily in the soaked top soil and the rock, but running nonetheless, ever higher, leaving almost everything behind him, as if ascending into the realm of gods and myth, answering the challenge laid at poets and writers, so infatigable in their obsessions and yet so frail.  He ran with the thought of reaching an empty crag he’d hitherto only spied from the shores, a high bluff breaking the monotony of trees, where he might stand and sound his Whitmanian yawp in protest and confirmation, defying the thunder and the splintering lightning like a shower of accusation to break him down. 
Not far from where he had started his sprint, however, his chest begun to sting quite fiercely.  He regressed into a speedy strut, which in turn slowed into a lumbering stagger, his side caving to stitches.  Abandoning his initial destination, which still loomed above him, deceptively near at every winding turn in the trail, Martin made instead for the porch of the Weigert villa, and by evening, he was laid up in bed with a cold.   (p. 239-40)

Poor Theodor, it is rather a worse fate than Hölderlin's, is it not?  To find oneself in the grip of nature's fury and rather than rising to meet it, to stare it square in the face, come up short and capitulate.  As I said in "Part One" of this post, an artist hopes for a moment in which he or she may feel absolutely enthralled, alive, not simply in the involuntary visceral sense of a rollercoaster ride, but also in a philosophical sense, convinced that its magnitude is derived from the importance only we as artists can ascribe to it.  We want convincing that we recognize the ultimate highs and lows of life's experience because of an artistic soul.  And what if it isn't true?  In our Romantic poet's case, he was clearly certain that he was profoundly sensitive to the phenomenal powers of nature, and left no doubt in the public's mind - 36 years up in a lone tower like a deranged Rapunzel will give that impression.  But what if we are not overwhelmed?  What if we do not reach the summit and are made mad with the rapture of it? 
I'm reminded of "Of Human Bondange" by the sublime W. Somerset Maugham, in which the protagonist Philip slowly comes to realize that there is a difference between true artistic genius and wannabe bohemians, and that he sadly belongs to the latter.  Although the book was published in 1915 and rather echoes the adolescent worries of every high schooler with half an imagination, the fundamental problem of whether one is destined for the things towards which one strives is eternal and age-less.  We become no more enlightened because we are older.  In fact, I often feel that bare confidence is a thing luxuriously afforded to childhood alone.   An "A" on a 3rd Grade project is a solid thing, real currency.  Whereas adult compliments and achievements are shrouded in duplicitous mystery, dependent on social connections, sexual manipulation, condescension, etc.   An artist is most commonly validated by the size of his entourage, the dispair of his suicide note, or the shrillness of his devil-may-care bowtie.  In an ever diverse and fragmented yet all-documented, digitally overexposed world, the idea of suffering (or celebrating) in quiet anonymity becomes terrifying.  If we hide from the world these days, no one has the time to notice or care.   Do we have the stength, therefore, to climb the mountain, face the tempest, and thrill in its beautiful savagery alone?

Last month, I found myself, very much on top of the mountain.  As previously mentioned, I attended the wedding of two amazing women-heroines-friends at the summit of Mt. Greylock.  Rather unexpectedly, Hurricane Irene decided to sweep through Massachussetts that same weekend, the eye passing right over our lodge.  No sooner than the storm began and we were advised that roads leading off the mountain were being closed, a sumptuous fog enveloped our little party.  The view, which usually stretches for miles and miles into New Hampshire now reached no further than a few feet.  Soon the rain ripped and pounded past us through the opaque air, and I thought about Hölderlin.  We were not allowed to leave the lodge, the heavy wooden doors secured, but I wondered what it would be like to tear out and run through the storm, to be drenched and beaten about...perhaps it's good that I don't know how I might have felt.  I continue to believe in my artistic soul, unchallenged.

PS: The day I received my first printed copy of "Gibbin House", I went for a run along the beach and was met with a torrential downpour, through which I persisted, furiously skimming over the sand as my head rocked to the beats of Swedish House Mafia's "One"...I was a Greek muse on the deserted beach that evening, light as air, inexhaustible, delerious, in tears against the fiery glow of sunset.  I don't know if that proves anything about me or just Theodor's theory that during seminal moments in our life, it must always rain...

Monday, September 5, 2011

GIBBIN HOUSE: Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and...

GIBBIN HOUSE: Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and...: Wanderer Above the Sea Fog by Caspar David Friedrich Hölderlin's Sturm und Drang Gibbin House - an excerpt: “A mountain wedding?” Al...

Visual Inspirations Meets Real Life: Hölderlin and Me - Part I

Wanderer Above the Sea Fog by Caspar David Friedrich
Hölderlin's Sturm und Drang

Gibbin House - an excerpt:

“A mountain wedding?” Albert inquired.
“I haven’t been, but it’s said to be quite beautiful,” Răluca said.

“But don’t they realize it’s going to rain up there?” Martin asked.  “If you will have an outdoor party, it must always rain.”
“Don’t be so gloomy,” Alfred said.   “Rain is good luck.”
“In the mountains, Albert?  I beg to differ.”
"Really, Martin, are you so delicate?" Răluca needled.  "Or are you afraid of ending up like Hölderlin?"
Martin almost choked on his Einspänner. 
“My apologies, I forgot you don’t like to be teased,” Răluca said, quite aware she was doing just that.
“No, it’s only…how could you know? You’ve heard me mention him before?”
“Do you mean to say I hit the nail on the head?” Răluca sat up, her eyes dancing in that reserved face of hers.  “I confess, I was only trying to show off a little.  Few know much about Hölderlin’s story, and I would hardly know it myself, if my father hadn’t told me.”

Martin marveled at Răluca, as she explained herself blushing.  Was this indeed the same seventeen-year old from a few nights ago, who had offended him with such unflattering severity and disdain?  Where forth had this intelligent old soul emerged, discomfiting him with a distinctive elegance that bordered on sensuality?  It could not be the same person.  Or perhaps, the dipping temperatures had simply ushered some color and vitality into her fiber, and momentarily veiled the toxic girl.  He determined to get a hold of himself, and tried to quell the eagerness in his voice as he picked up the thread of conversation.
“But it’s what they say, isn’t it, that Friedrich Hölderlin went mad in the midst of the lightning?”
“That is the accepted version,” she answered with a humorously cryptic inflection.  “He could easily have been mad all along.  Or never at all.”“Really, Martin, are you so delicate?” Răluca needled.  “Or are you afraid of ending up like Hölderlin?”
“He’s said to have spoken about ‘standing bareheaded beneath God’s thunderstorms’.  Clearly the experience left an impression.” 
“Exactly!” I can’t help feeling his account is just a little too convincing.  And my father used to say that nothing disguised so well as insanity.  Obscuring crimes, failures.  Such a convenient way of relinquishing all responsibility, hiding behind madness.” 
“Then, according to you, Hölderlin only purported to be mad, as a sort of refuge?”
“He did do his best work after that period, when people finally left him alone.”
“It’s a sinister thought,” Martin considered.  “And yet I completely see the attraction.  I could see how it might appeal to someone…”
“You don’t think it’s the mark of cowardice?” she asked, “A negation of life?”
Here Albert interjected, aware that Anian had nearly drifted off to sleep.  “The version I heard has our poet wandering through Auvergne with a pistol at his side.  Whatever happened on that mountain, I think there’s an argument for a preexisting paranoia.”
At this Răluca laughed.
“But what if it was love?” Anian suddenly roused.
“Love? You’re referring to the death of the lady the poet had been involved with shortly before?” Albert asked.
Anian shrugged.  “I really have no idea what you’re all talking about, but in my experience, it’s always to do with love."
“Perhaps,” Albert smiled, and changed the subject.                                   (p.126-128)

Friedrich Holderlin 
The above is actually one of the first dialogues I ever wrote when I first began sketching out scenes for GIBBIN HOUSE in 2002.  I'd had in mind a time in college, when some people invited my room mates and I to go camping - my friend declined, saying it was going to rain, because it always rains when you go camping.  At the time, I thought him such a preternaturally pessimistic young man.  But then, it did rain and I confess, we rather feasted with Schadenfreude on the dour stories of sand-caked tents and soggy sandwiches that dominated the usual cacophony of undergraduate complaints at the basement coffeeshop that week. 
The truth of course is that T. was right - it did always rain.  It rained for every beach picnic and garden party.   It literally monsoon-ed for my sister's wedding.  It even poured the one afternoon I stood to enjoy standing inches from a soon-to-retire Marat Safin (life-altering moments, I tell you!)
And of course, this past weekend, when I headed deep into the Berkshires to attend the nuptuals of two dear friends and social heroes in their own right, well, I don't have to tell you what happened...

Letter to Goethe
But I will leave that remarkable experience for the next chapter.
The question you're probably wondering is - what on earth does all this have to do with the German Romantic poet, Friedrich Hölderlin?
As many of you will know, Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin was a seminal German poet and philosopher of the late 18th-early 19th Century, known for his Hellenic poems and development of German Idealism.  He shared the cultural landscape with Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Novalis, and Hegel, even influencing the direction of some of their theories.  His name, however, languished largely in obscurity until the 1910's, when Norbert von Hellingrath published the first complete collection of his works, prose, and letters (although the above conversation predates von Hellingrath's publication, one might assume that theories regarding Hölderlin abounded before - perhaps radiating from the Stefan George circle, which influenced many writers in the late 19th Century, including Austrian poet Hugo von Hofmansthal.)  His most famous work is the epistolary novel Hyperion, set in 18th Century Greece, which is alternatingly regarded as a philosophical treatise, a musical masterpiece, a broken-hearted love letter to an expiring paramour, but always as a work of great unsettling, unearthly beauty.
Three years after its completion, an ill-fated  sojourn from Bordeaux to Nurtingen brought on fits of madness, following which he was briefly institutionalized.  Instead of enjoying the accolades of his accomplishment, Hölderlin lived out the next 36 years secluded in a lonely tower.  
Of course, one must wonder if a single trip through a mountain, even if on foot, could have unraveled a man, a genius at that?  Certainly, he had enough cause to be burdened - his former love Susette Gontard lay dying, he was plagued by money troubles, and he suffered from severe hypochondria.  Then there was his disappointment over Goethe, who referred to him as Hölterlein (little Hölderlin) and at one meeting condescendingly assigned him little poetic 'exercises'.  Not one to take himself lightly, Hölderlin must have been crushed by his mentor's attitude (can you see where our protagonist Theodor Soller might sympathize with the man?)
But even if he simply arrived in Nurtingen exhausted, if his demise had nothing at all to do with the Auvergne and all to do with a melodramatic disposition, failed ambitions, and unfavorable politics - the natural course of the 19th century artist - if in fact, he wasn't insane at all, but too disinterested in the world to listen any longer to its disparages, I want to think of him in his storm.  It is too perfectly symbolic.  The poet in his tempest, who has aspired to invoke the Greek gods with words, conjured Hyperion's titanic light, and is suddenly caught in their thunder and fury.  Sturm und Drang.  What artist does not wish for himself such a moment of urgency?  At the edge of reason, and yet in the absolute present? 
Stayed tuned to find out...