Installation & Event at A Healing Collective
June 29, 2012, 6-8 pm
4231 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX 77025
I saw Paul Cezanne's, Post-Impressionist oil painting above, Still Life with Peppermint Bottle, hanging inconspicuously near a basement elevator. It was underground at the intersection where the architect I.M. Pei's Modern Wing of the National Gallery linked the nation's old but recently refurbished and beautiful Neoclassical style building with its many galleries.
It was an odd jolt, the title and finding this collected masterwork near an elevator shaft. I felt like I had discovered something hidden, a little known secret that Cezanne, like me, might have an interest in the properties of peppermint. Thinking and working on a project in collaboration with A Healing Collective in Houston, TX, at the time, I had been discussing peppermint's sensory properties.
Never having seen a visual reference to a peppermint bottle in any other Post-Impressionist still life, while spending many years in art museums, my head in art historical texts and timelines, I became curious about Cezanne's subject matter. Why make a peppermint bottle the focal point in this painting that took him four years to complete? I returned to Houston still thinking about Still Life with Peppermint Bottle.
Summer Tonic, is my answer to the feel good properties of a whiff and a snort of peppermint as a potient for what ails you. It is a project located in the waiting room of A Healing Collective, and originated as an idea for an event using RoadsignUSA- the billboard. RoadsignUSA was donated by Larry Kelly Real Estate for art and artists to experiment with beauty, wit, irony, education, and frankly, dealing with the insanity of reinventing capitalism in America in the 21st century. A new road sign will be on display for the opening reception of Summer Tonic on June 29th.
I am also at a point in my own work where I want to continue exploring the qualities of the sensory and organic of the unseen that I sense living in the powerful silence of plant life. My identification with plants exists through the shared experiences of life, death, and breath. My sculptures will be placed on view in the quiet room settings and store front windows of A Healing Collective, June 29 - July 29. A reception for Summer Tonic will be June 29, from 6-8 pm, at 4231 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX, 77025.
A Healing Collective is an alternative health care and healing practice whose individuals share spiritual fitness techniques like yoga, tai chi, rituals of food and drink, the practice of tea, and educational classes like the Alexander Technique, which can improve posture and change our habits of mind. These practitioners know what they are doing to stay healthy of mind and body and might be able to help anyone of us who are willing. The reception on June 29th, 6-8 pm, should be pretty interesting, so please come!
Was Cezanne, who was rumored to have been a devout Roman Catholic aware of any mind and body benefits of the extract of peppermint? Can peppermint soothe the soul with feel good properties? If so, it may be why every bottle in this painting appears asymmetrical, the shoulder of one just a little higher than the other. His still life subject- the red-label corked bottle, most likely contained Peppermint Schnapps, a mixture of vodka, sugar and flavor of the oil of peppermint.
Cezanne's bottles all look drunk! I suppose he may have been happily drinking on the job, not an uncommon practice in the art historical canon of men and Modernism. So, if he was drinking, did the consumption of his subject, Peppermint Schnapps, reduce his inhibitions and his facility to paint a real-world bottle likeness?
From art history, we know that the European Modern artists loved their absinthe. Peppermint Schnapps was used to flavor the bitterness of the alcoholic beverage during this exciting period of change brought on by the forthcoming Industrial Revolution. Picasso, in fact, references absinthe in his young career in a ceramic sculpture titled, Glass of Absinthe, created 20 years after Cezanne's, Still Life with Peppermint Bottle.
We will never know whether Cezanne's still life pays homage to peppermint as a result of his own distortion from drinking. But, at some point he surely became aware that he was purposefully painting misshapen ellipses. The peppermint plant, either way, gets some credit in my mind (its what artists do, make connections where there are none at first).
In the art world, Cezanne's risk taking with the sensational reality of forms garnishes him with the label of Father of Modern Art. It leads to an artistic convention that collapses 3-dimensional space when rendered on the surface of a 2-dimensional picture plane, putting the viewer in the uncomfortable position of not knowing up from down and front from back, an art expression now termed Simultaneity. Cezanne's oeuvre inspires Picasso to experiment with Analytic and Synthetic Cubism and the new medium of collage during the early 1920's.
Peppermint is a powerful microbial and medicinal plant available for treatmenst of many ailments today. Cezanne's work above suggests to me that our plants may be more in control of our behaviors than we brain-powered people would care to admit. But, here comes another new century, so hold on.
Summer Tonic opening reception, installation & event
June 29, 6-8 pm
A Healing Collective
4231 Bellaire Boulevard
Houston, TX 77025