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Saturday, December 18, 2010

12 Readings in Advent: Yolanda Sharpe

Broad Stroke

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Mullen Gallery at SUNY-Oneonta to see several of Makoto Fujimura’s Nihongan paintings and enjoyed the “Shadow” group show, of which they were a part. I went with Yolanda Sharpe, whose “Urban Fragments” one-woman show preceded “Shadow.” Yolanda is one of those people who is interested in a number of art forms; she is a wonderful soprano, and she often writes poetry to go with her paintings.

For the “reading” for today, I’m posting images of some of her encaustics from 2009, along with the poems that accompanied them in the show.

Of her 2009-2010 encaustics, she says, “I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, relocated to upstate New York, and yet continue to celebrate the vibrant, creative energy of that city. This current series is part of the continuum of this energy. My creative impetus is shaped by my formative years in Michigan, and by a desire to capture Detroit’s beauty in the midst of decay and re-ruralization.” Yolanda Sharpe holds an MFA from Wayne State and has had many solo and group shows. She also has received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Currently she is ending a long stint as chairman of the art department and will soon go to Russia on a Fullbright scholarship.

01 More Miles
More Miles and Fat Times,
jamming to swirls, blurry, heavy metal and wax.
His tempos insist on porosity,
on time and space,
and move past fabrications
called walls to rule my mind

02 Miles Davis’ Fat Times (Part 3)
You are way cool, too cool by far
By paint, rhythm and blues,
Jaaaaaaazzaay (sing this if you want to).
I nod my head, shrug my shoulders,
pour halos and love that lava that bees make.

03 Miles Davis’ Fat Times (Part 4)
Drywall screen, framed by decisions,
Mood shifts, chroma and funky bee nuggets.
Fat Times you play infinity’s rim
rediscovered in every layer

04 Stars
I see my Star and I sing oracles,
and fly through orange fields,
to polish golden corners.

05 Inverted U-Shape
Inside the Inverted U,
I step on sidewalks and cracks like rocks in riverbeds.
The blue edge is the city.
With chunks I swim, glide, and am frozen.
Crayola slabs are sewer grates
and I am transformed from the mundane
into a glorious letter that is both C and U.

06 L-Shape Foliage
Look under the L-Shape Foliage,
behind an old idea turned into new.
Spring is on Kirby Street,
and the city’s thin air and grass is green and cold.

07 Ropes
Ropes hang from shadows locked in yellows, reds, nets, and roots. I cannot forget the urban tempo,
a syncopation and angular insistence against the sky.
Not even just for a while.

08 Broad Stroke [picture at top of post]
The jet stream is bold, white, fat, and flat.
It paints across the sky as it flies to God-knows-where,
and I go with it too.
I wish that crumbling bricks were bejeweled, or whole gems.
The Broad Stroke is a sea of billboards where paper is ripped,
and new ads are slapped on phone numbers, and faces.
They make promises ancient layers could not fulfill.

09 Sunflower and Leaf
Sunflower, you are the sun I look at.
You bathe the spotted leaf with red, gold, and black showers. Round boxes catch your glow
before your cousin
sets her table on the horizon.

10 Adrift
The act of painting is often like floating.
It is fabulous, uncomfortable, unknowing.
I paint adrift in questions.
Blue raft, let me know when to sit on both sides.
Let’s ride down the middle of the river
where whirls and eddies don’t stop.
Make us move, stay, and move again.

11 Grass and Brass
The diamond glistens in the grass,
and rainbows hover over blades,
green and sure of summer.
Pink is the color of love, I am told.

12 White Field #1
Say it is not winter!
No. I was fooled.
This is residue from the river at Belle Isle.
This is when I remember to squint before the shore of the other side of the island.
This is when I look at footprints from the river.
I choose colors for this memory of refreshment felt briefly,
when the muggy hot air dissolves into this one cool, cool, second.
13 The Rose
They told me they liked it funky.
So, I obeyed and kept it that way.
Rose, you are turned upside down
from the time I first drew you
the year before.
Now, you are on a thin veneer
and fused into the funky groove of white and black,
next to the yellow fence and sky below.

14 Red Raft #1
Red square, turned diamond, you are frozen,
and more hip than I thought you could be

15 Red Raft #2
Because your cousin is so much hotter, saucier too.
Her raft says she will race you, beat you,
with her blue and yellow boxes.
The white “L” comes from you
so that you can beat her instead.

16 Yellow Brick
I took this road to get away, to destroy decay.
My road is from the sun, from the east where it is born.
Blue hope and amber brick knit another wall.


  1. Yoland, These are really lush--the first 4 and the "Ropes" one are particularly appealing to me! How large are they? Mary

  2. Shall go find Yolanda, Mary!

  3. Mary Bullington sent some info:

    I am sharing Yolanda's work again, with some new info! She says, "these paintings are 23 by 22.5 inches. The paintings were done during the fall of 2009, and the poems written earlier this year."

    The wonder of facebook, where one artist friend meets another.

    Thanks, Mary!

  4. Hmm, just found this--and now you two are friends! Facebook has scrambled all the parts of my life so successfully....


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.