...Libby Pace Installation, continued

She also got immediately on the phone and starting calling friends. "I'm a people person," she announced solemnly. People adore Libby, for good reason. "Nice" does not adequately describe her, no, not hardly. During the hours and hours we spent together, while she worked on the piece and I frantically documented, downloaded, optimized, formatted and posted the growing slew of images, I found her to be a sapphire in the slag heap of the NYC art scene. Not only does she possess the integrity of character and generosity of spirit of an enlightened soul, she is freakin' hilarious. With her enormous blue eyes, baby-doll voice and drawling Tennessee accent, she brooks no bullshit and pulls no punches. Unfortunately, I can't even quote the phrase that first made me love her; you had to be there.

In a way, this piece was like the building of Beauvais Cathedral--it tested the limits of physicality. Late, late one night, just before the opening, I helped her suspend the largest glass sphere right in the center of the window, just behind a cut-out flower. With the water inside it weighed a lot, and cost both of us some tension and sore arms to suspend. We admired the way it created a lense for the lamp overhead, a long, bell-like shadow, the way it refracted the stencil in front of it, and the completely coincidental way it echoed the sphere of the green sun in the painting behind it. After fifteen minutes, it suddenly shattered. "Well, at least we got to experience it," said Lib.

We had a lot of good long talks on dinner breaks in Williamsburg, (particularly at Bonita, on Bedford and South Third or thereabouts--the best Mexican food either of us have found in New York to date). One evening I was propounding my newly hatched hypothesis on the grammar of art; the reason that so many young artists produce lame, amorphous art is that they do not understand how to construct a proper English sentence: subject, verb, object. Never mind prepositional phrases or indirect objects, they don't even understand verbs. You know, it's the type of artist who says, you know, like, their art is about Red, you know. Like, the association with blood, life energy, force, that sort of thing. Yes, and what about it? It goes nowhere, just sort of hangs out. I don't know if this hypothesis has any validity, but Libby and I tested it by seeing if we could make complete sentences about our own work.

"There's my painting, 'the birds fly up over the blue city," I said. And, 'the viola handle reaches achingly toward the bare tree branches.' That's a sentence."

"I don't know if my work makes sentences at all," said Lib.

"Sure it does. 'The baroque, organic pattern of the stencil slowly disappears to reveal the formal perfection of the spheres within," I said. "While doing so, it creates infinite refractions of the light and the space around it, suggesting meditations on the nature of inner versus outer beauty, the natural world versus human constructs, and the timeless nature of spirit.'"

"Well, maybe my work is a little wordy," she conceded.

©2003 by Stephanie Lee Jackson

photos of the first stages
more photos of the first stages