Category: Cheers At Five

Tom Piazza

Multitalented Yaddo artist Tom Piazza gives us his version of “Buck Dancer’s Choice,” inspired by the great American bluesmen Taj Mahal and Mississippi John Hurt. #MusicMonday

Yaddo: Making American Culture

Today, a quick #ThrowbackSaturday tour of the treasure trove of photographs, intimate letters, rare books, and memorabilia included in “Yaddo: Making American Culture,” our 2008 exhibition at The New York Public Library. A good reminder of how many storms Yaddo has weathered in its long history, and the thousands of visionary #YaddoArtists supported.

Kristy Davis & Amy Hempel

Our own Program & External Affairs Coordinator Kristy Davis sends us into happy hour with a beautiful sentence from Yaddo artist Amy Hempel – and a little help from her friends.

Carol Lipnik

The full moon is pulling the water off the land / Is it in you, to love a nonviolent man?

Spellbinding Yaddo artist Carol Lipnik sings Matt Kanelos’s broodingly beautiful “Nonviolent Man,” with Matt Kanelos on piano, Kyle Sanna on guitar and synths. Recorded at Joe’s Pub, March 3, 2016.

Mark Strand & William Bailey

Mark Strand and William Bailey, Those Last Moments, lithograph, 2008

Today’s respite from the storm: a poem by Yaddo artist Mark Strand (a guest in 1972 and 1973) is paired with a lithograph by his friend, the renowned American painter (and longtime Yaddo board member) William Bailey.


We were in another country and talked of the war,

Which we thought would never end, and of our leaders

Who did nothing, when we felt the slow encroachment

Of the hour, and imagined people up and down the coast

Becoming drowsy and drifting off towards sleep, then the wind

Picked-up and rain pelted the slate roof and seaward

Windows, and flattened the wild grass and thistles.

Suddenly, the rain stopped, and for a while the only sound

Was the muffled thrust of waves against the shore.

I sat at the table, finishing my drink, and turned

And saw you standing in front of the hallway mirror

As if searching for someone no longer there. You lowered

One shoulder, then the other, letting the blue and violet

Cotton dress slip to the floor. I watched as the shadow

Of night rounded the pale folds of your flesh. And what

Remained of the day—a thin strip of light in the west—

Slid quietly into the sea, and the world of which

We had spoken, dangerous still, seemed out of reach.

—Mark Strand

Anne Truitt at Yaddo

Anne Truitt, a major figure in American art for more than four decades, was first a guest at Yaddo in 1974. In this video, she reads an entry from Daybook: The Journal of An Artist about her time in Stone South that summer, and the work she was engaged in: a series of paintings called “Brunt.”

“The concept of ‘brunt,’ of accepting and enduring, still seems to me to have a kind of nobility,” she writes. “There is a stubborn selfhood about it that is dear to me. It can be, quite literally, the only way to survive.”

Steven Watson on William Pope.L

Pope.L, How Much is that Nigger in the Window, Tompkins Square Crawl, NY, 1991. (Image: Pope.L and Mitchell-Innes & Nash)

Yaddo Artist William Pope.L, currently “at the nerve center of the art world” (The New York Times), has been a guest at Yaddo five times. The cultural historian and documentary filmmaker Steven Watson recalls his encounter with Pope.L’s work when they were both in residence in the summer of 1997. 

I recall the June evening in 1997 when a group of Yaddo residents gathered in the small upstairs library to watch William Pope.L’s videotape. He popped it in the VCR machine without an introduction to frame it. For the next 17 minutes, we watched Pope.L crawling along a street near Tompkins Park on a hot summer afternoon. The video work was rudimentary, the action apparently simple: a black man in glasses, dressed in a dark gray pin-striped suit, white shirt and dark tie, holding a green plastic flower pot with two blossoms, crawls a block. He is sometimes on his stomach, sometimes on his back, always pushing himself forward with his battered boots, never rising from the ground, always sweating, sometimes crawling in the gutter, sometimes past parked cars. There are relatively few onlookers—children on bikes, short-sleeved walkers, a policeman—and none of them seem to take much notice of him.

The “drama” of the piece occurs about halfway through, when a black man in a blue shirt crosses the street and asks “All right, brother?” Drawn in by concern, the onlooker stays on the scene and becomes outraged—at the fact that “a black man is crawling down the fucking street!”, at the fact that the crawler is ruining the kind of suit he paid to wear to work, at the fact that a white man is videotaping this apparently demeaning action for posterity. When Pope.L says that it is “an art project,” and promises to explain it to the onlooker when he finishes the crawl, which leaves the onlooker unsatisfied because he wants—no, needs—to know what it means “right now!”, two things are clear: 1) The potentially powerful effect of art, even when the audience is small; 2) The tangible sense of threat and vulnerability that William Pope.L has elicited; this arises not only from the onlooker’s angry incomprehension, but from the fact that one is vertical and the other is horizontal.

“I decided to literally put myself in the place of someone who might be homeless and on the street,” said Pope.L later. “I wanted to get inside that bodily condition. In New York as in most cities, if you can remain vertical and moving you can deal with the world; this is class power. But people who are forced by circumstance to give up their verticality are prey to all kinds of dangers.”

At Yaddo, when the video finished, the two dozen people in the audience were mostly silent, and I was one of them. The open-ended issues raised by the video resonated in my mind: Who is responsible for the crawling man? What does it mean that he is a black man dressed in the uniform of power? Does the silence in the mostly white Yaddo audience reflect the land-mined mentality around discussion of race? What is the power of the image that so offends the onlooker? Why don’t more people react? Pope.L’s work is a reminder that in art it is the question—not the answer—that matters.

By Steven Watson, from an exhibition curated by Barbara Toll as part of Yaddo’s centenary celebrations.

Copyright 2000 by The Corporation of Yaddo

Marie Howe

Marie Howe. Photo: Brad Fowler

Marie Howe was a guest at Yaddo in 1989 and 1995. The poem shared here is from her debut collection, The Good Thief (1988). On the challenge of staying present, Howe has written, “This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.” Cheers, all.

“Part of Eve’s Discussion” by Marie Howe

Lynn Freed on Luca Buvoli

“Instant Before Incident,” Marinetti’s Drive 1908, Luca Buvoli, sculptural and video installation

Today we launch #CheersAtFive, a moment to pause your headline scanning, take a breath, raise a glass and enjoy a poem, a story, a piece of music, or an image of transporting beauty. We begin with an excerpt from “Friendships in Arcadia,” a collection of reminiscences by Yaddo guests on the extraordinary fellow artists they encountered during their residences. Clink, clink.

I should have learned, after all my years at Yaddo, how impossible it is to extrapolate the work from the man. But I haven’t. And so, on a few weeks’ acquaintance with Luca Buvoli, I imagined that his effortless European grace, his faultless manners, his tanned elegance, even in an old T-shirt, would translate into the visual rendition of a Corelli sonata.

What I should have done was to notice how he played ping-pong. A group of us played almost every night after dinner. When Luca’s turn came, he was nothing like his breakfast-and-dinner self, or even his afternoon self—swimming laps like a pro, straight and neat, never hogging the pool. At ping-pong, he was a demon, all over the place, whopping, excoriating himself, pressing for victory. “You play like a tiger,” he said to me when I had beaten him one night. Well, he should have seen himself. He was as wild as his own Not-a-Superhero. He was Lucca Brazzi before he was sent to sleep with the fishes. He was himself in the studio.

By Lynn Freed, from an exhibition curated by Barbara Toll as part of Yaddo’s centenary celebrations.

Copyright 2000 by The Corporation of Yaddo