“I all the time want to be assembly you someplace,” poet Greg Cantrell writes to his spouse, the artist Marlene Koenig. Proof of that want and people conferences is discovered within the couple’s first collaborative ebook, “What Passes Between Us Over Café Tables.”
The title is a reference to a ritual the 2 observe to make artwork whereas touring. “Each morning we sit in a café. We don’t communicate very a lot at first. I write, she attracts, after which we go our work forwards and backwards.” Sourced from their respective journals and picked up over years, many nations and plenty of extra empty cups, the ebook pairs Koenig’s photographs with Cantrell’s phrases.
Supported partially by a grant from the Anne McKee Artist Fund, the uncooked materials of the ebook was constructed utilizing minimal instruments: paper, pens and glue sticks. Koenig explains how limitation lends itself to creation, “As with all apply, it takes the selection out in order that motion can occur.”
The couple was strict in apply, however lenient in curation. “It’s way more a few lifestyle than attempting to get an ideal poem or excellent picture. The purpose is the second, and making one thing poetic of it,” stated Cantrell. Koenig agreed, including, “While you make artwork, you maintain on to that second in a unique form of manner. It’s this ephemeral feeling of bits and items and the way they acquire right into a broader image.”
The broader image of “What Passes Between Us Over Café Tables” is as stunning as it’s intimate. “It’s a love letter to her,” admitted Cantrell. And but, the intention and the viewers prolong past the couple. “The tone of the ebook is to dwell nicely, to be good to your self, to be good to others, to have a good time the imperfection and the fleetingness of the second. I consider it as a love letter to life, a celebration of affection, and a celebration of an affair that has taken us throughout many continents and into this expertise.”
Mentioned love affair started in New York Metropolis 20-some years in the past in a former sweatshop changed into an artist collective. “It was the ninth of July. She got here all by herself within the rain to the seventh flooring of this industrial constructing. I opened the door and instantly knew that I used to be going to love this individual.” One all-night, rooftop dialog and two months later, Cantrell proposed and inside a 12 months the pair had been married. In lieu of conventional rings they put on matching tattoos, blue Venn circles on their forearms. “I can’t lose the tattoo,” laughed Cantrell.
Within the early 2000s, the couple was priced out of their condominium in Brooklyn’s Dandy Zipper Manufacturing unit, detailed in a poem by Cantrell as “emptied out and torn aside, the place our collectively bought its begin.” Koenig and Cantrell made manner for the tip of the highway and earlier than lengthy, known as it residence. “It’s the identical Key West story you all the time hear: we spent the afternoon right here, went again to New York, packed our shit and moved down,” stated Koenig, laughing.
Key West gave the couple the monetary freedom to journey extra extensively and acquire the miles and moments that might turn out to be their ebook. The pair describes “What Passes Between Us Over Café Tables” as an experiment, to see what may occur in the event that they allowed their work to have interaction with and be influenced by the opposite. It’s an affect Koenig felt lengthy earlier than the couple traded notebooks. “After I met Greg, I felt so small and insignificant as an artist. I didn’t go to artwork college. He confirmed me that there’s a solution to be that’s utterly legitimate and must be celebrated. He gave weight to it, the place I couldn’t. He didn’t choose me as a artistic. When anyone helps you once you’re weak and actually sees you, it’s all the things.”
It took months earlier than Koenig was in a position to present Cantrell her personal work, a privilege for him then and now. “It was superb to succeed in that place in our relationship. To have witnessed what I first noticed to what’s occurring now, and all the things in between, the event and the expansion and the change, it’s astounding.”
Fittingly, or fatedly, on the day of our interview, the pair sit under Koenig’s newest portray, two love birds perched on a flowering pelvic bone. Koenig explains that the birds signify the nadis Ida and Pingala. “They’re two reverse energies, the best and left facet, the photo voltaic and the lunar that we’re in fixed effort to stability so we will transfer via the world in a extra holistic manner.”
All through the ebook are references to Talula Blue, Koenig’s nickname, born of sketches handed between the couple through the pre-Cana courses they took to appease Koenig’s Catholic mom. “I began to doodle this woman and I wrote Talula Blue and that turned the daughter that by no means was, then it transferred into my nickname as a result of I by no means felt like mine match me.” Talula Blue has turn out to be Koenig’s artistic alias and the namesake of her studio, Blue Pores and skin. “It caught as a result of she all the time has paint throughout her. Blue paint, blue sky, blue pores and skin, Blue Pores and skin Studio,” stated Cantrell.
In variety, Koenig calls Cantrell “Knobby,” a reference to his shaved head and penchant for bumping into issues with it. Cantrell asks within the pages of their ebook, “What number of occasions are you able to hit your head earlier than your personal gentle comes on? I’ve a thousand scars on my knob, however just one or two good concepts.” His work and life counsel in any other case. Up earlier than daybreak, Cantrell watches the dawn every single day and as soon as arrived in Lithuania with a suitcase stuffed with journals and books, however not a single article of clothes, his priorities current in his packing.
Cantrell studied philosophy and attracts inspiration from Koenig’s dedication to residing totally and creating constantly. “I like her work, however what I take from her is each day apply, self-discipline, the totality of being somebody who’s a artistic entity. Philosophers speak about how your life, a life, may be constructed and composed in the way in which a murals is. Greater than any single factor she does, it’s that way of life that strikes me about her. She actually, authentically lives and what’s produced is reflective of that.”
Likewise, what passes between Koenig and Cantrell is made alive by them; nations, espresso, historical past, reminiscence, the infinite love letter.
“What Passes Between Us Over Café Tables” is out there for buy via Koenig’s web site, marlenekoenigart.com/book and at Salt Gallery, the place works from the ebook are on view via Feb. 28.