Cf 242

Dori Rawlins


i met dori rawlins at this amazing thing
she used to do
“critique with the curator”
it resembled faith healing
even more than art criticism

some artist would toss three canvases
up to the front of the auditorium
and she’d look at them for a while
perhaps waiting for the spirits to move her

then finally she would speak:
okay these are what you’ve been doing
and they’re safe
and I’m not going to talk about them

but this one
this is why you came here tonight
to find out if it makes any sense
if you’re getting anywhere

and I’m just here to tell you
this is really great
and you’ve got to keep exploring this

and then as if the healer had laid a hand
on the artist’s forehead
they would virtually faint
really? it’s good? it’s okay?
I can keep doing this…

equally though
i recall driving to a school with her
to judge some student art
and she feared
that after all the false alarms
that after fourteen years
that the city was really going to do it
really going to cut her position this time

and she wondered what it meant
to support, to develop
an art community
for a decade and more
and then be told forget it

she thought it was like a marriage
that one day
isn’t worth bothering any more
and what did all those years of breakfasts

i thought it was just a big political matrix
that art, that she
didn’t really go
from meaningful
to not
from important
to not
from providing culture and aesthetic and saving lives
to not

but that you simply went
from 51% popular to 49
that virtually nothing had really changed

and more importantly
that surviving
and thriving
fourteen years
in some political hot potato
isn’t just an achievement
it is extraordinary

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