Thursday, March 13, 2008

Remembering Carlo

My birthday is in a few days - Carlo always sent me a card. Posted below is an excerpt from my senior thesis paper, written in 2006 in conjunction with my thesis project, Portraits from My Father's Chair.

MECA painting professor Gail Spaien told me she read somewhere that Alice Neel said "we are immersed in time which is rapidly passing by. Death, the great void of life, hangs over us." Perhaps my fervor to record my community now is a race with transience. This past year several people I knew and loved, died. One dear friend that I lost was the artist, Carlo Pittore, who died last summer of cancer. Carlo was extremely disciplined and worked harder than any artist I know, painting and drawing from the figure nearly every day. Carlo also did much to build and support the art community here in Maine. In the almost twenty years that I knew Carlo, he never forgot to send me a birthday card. Carlo knew he was dying when he wrote this message on my last card from him, in his characteristic bold, black, India ink:
dear dear dearest Martha. May intense and instant gratification be yours throughout each & every day. Happy Birthday Sweetheart. XXX Carlo Pittore
The front of the card is a reproduction of a Tantric painting of an Indian couple engaged in sexual intercourse. Given what is written in small text on the bottom of the card ("The pillow of lust gives instant and intense gratification. The contortions of the bodies here hint at the effort required to get something so evanescent." Courtesy: Tarun Chopra), it is comical that Carlo would choose this message for my birthday. He was a bit of an instigator. About art making, he said, "If it’s not difficult, it’s not worth doing." But the deeper meaning of this image speaks to me about the integration and balance of male and female energies within the self, and how when balanced, we can channel our energies and move forward with intention. "Tantra essentially means ‘action.’" I believe that Carlo was urging me to seize the day, and because it feels very important to pay attention to the words of a dying friend, I keep this card in my studio as a reminder.

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