Another Face of Stuart Davis
November 24, 2006 19:51

~posted by Clint

You know Stuart Davis the musician. You have seen Stuart Davis on Stu Cam and now on The Stuart Davis Show. You may have seen his recently released Audio Book or heard a rumor that he has a print book in the works, but did you know Stuart Davis was also a painter?

Stuart's paintings feature poems in his constructed language IS, an assortment of figures on fire and reflecting light and dozens of crows painted on paper, wood, and canvas, in watercolor, ink, oil, pencil, acrylic, marker, pen, blood, tears, and piss. Here are a few from a recent series:


Two Crows

Three Crows

Sheho 2

Self Portrait

To see the rest of Stuart's paintings, visit his Flickr site.

Why does he paint so many crows? Stu posted this on his blog last month...

I'm reluctant to be honest about how deeply crows have become woven into the fabric of my being, because it's going to seem weird. I feel them, I would say, 80% of my waking and dreaming life now. I dream of them nearly every night, for weeks now. They are intense, beautiful, simple dreams.

I cannot explain why, one day at the age of 35 I woke up and felt possessed by crows, and began painting them. I wasn't even a painter. But they did not want music, or poetry, or phototgraphy. They demanded to be painted. Hundreds of them. For days, then weeks. I feel disjointed when I have to do something besides paint or study crows.

If I am taking out the trash, I am painting crows in my head. Making coffee? Painting crows. Running errands at the bank? Painting crows. Crows on paper, wood, canvas, in watercolor, ink, oil, pencil, acrylic, marker, pen, blood, tears, piss. Crows on copper (my next series). Sitting, flying, scavenging. I thought it would pass, but it has morphed and deepened. Driving, I look for them in the sky. Walking I search trees. At home I google them. When I see them, a rush of adrenaline. Then, I wait and want to see them again.

I am slightly embarrassed, in fact, to admit what incredible exhileration I feel every time I see a crow now. They take my breath away. When I first saw the murder in my back yard -after the first three days of painting them- it scared Light into me. It was such a stunning, unmistakable synchronicity that it shocked my soul into a bizarre recognition.

And that is the puzzle.

I cannot relate verbally what transpired. It doesn't slide into signifiers. I mean, I try, but... Like for starters, just what the FUCK is going on when you don't see crows, or think about crows for years (since that one, five years ago, in a blizzard), and then one morning you wake up and have to paint them, exorcise them, respire their enigmatic ¿Whatness, with no idea why? Painted and painted, twelve, thirteen hours a day. Then, on the third day I walk out of my studio, and there is a murder of them in my tree, right over the studio? CROWS? At THAT moment? I have never seen a crow in my yard, or in my town.

That moment cracked a mirror I had mistaken for a window.

Since then, they've been back -never as a murder- only in singles. I have followed one around my town for a half hour in my pajamas. Now I see them often. They are stalking me, I swear to God. Wherever I go, they're around. I have read dozens of sources, poetic, scientific. I asked my Zen teacher to explain to me just what is going on with these crows, I mean they're an old central Zen symbol, so a Zen Master must know...

"I don't know shit about that."

That's a quote.

If I am really honest I would tell you I am pregnant. Or possessed. Enveloped, subsumed, hypnotized in a recognition I can't articulate. It has a hold on my heart, it hurts to turn away from it, emotionally or spiritually. I'm not *thinking* about them. They have nested in my belly, not my head. They're in me, I'm in them, and when they look at me (in dreams they often now get very close to my face and just look in my eyes, and it is ELECTRIC and vulnerable and exposing) I think I can say this much:

The murder that first came into my yard, the dozen on that third day of painting, they are my guides, my family. I mean that literally, somehow THOSE crows, on THAT day, were messengers of a sort. The Family Secret. Agents of Communion. See, I don't like writing this, cuz I it sounds ridiculous, and "purple" and deluded. But listen, I painted those fucking things for three days, for no reason out of nothing. My wife thought I was going crow-crazy. Then they SHOWED UP, in my yard, where they'd never been before. The recognition shook me. Those crows screamed THIS IS NO COINCIDENCE, SEE? WE ARE HERE! I still can't believe it. But I can't deny it.

Now all I want to do is be present to them, as one of them, and delve the Family Secret. What do these guides usher? I'm almost embarrassed to admit how open my Heart is to them, how deeply and sincerely I love them, without knowing why or even what it is.

But not as embarrassed as I am when they look into me, and show me how I idolize decoys, exalt delusions.

Black eyes blink, silken hoods tilt quizzically.

Later my Zen teacher Genpo Roshi admitted he did know something about them. "They are part of your Shiho ceremony. But it hasn't happened. And I don't know when it will happen, but they were there when it happened, spiritually."

I know they are my family. They know me, and found me, and came at a time when I was broken. They are here now, and will be with me when I die, and without them I would be lost and listless. Biding the black, inscrutable Mystery. In both worlds at once, straddling cycles of birth and death without effort or sense of attainment. Wise, inventive, Paradoxical sense of humor.


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