Friday, August 26, 2016

Sol LeWitt: A Story

It was in the fall of 1970 that Sol LeWitt visited California Institute of the Arts. The day I met him, he was sitting in a chair at the edge of a cluster of a dozen or so forty-inch square tables in the cafeteria. Students were gathered round, sitting and standing behind him and to his side.

On that day, Sol was picking out students to help him install his exhibit at the, then, Pasadena Art Museum. My memory of exactly how he chose people is vague. But the next image that pops into my mind in telling this story is of Sol, surrounded by gallery walls explaining how to approach his wall drawing installation, his arms waving, his fingers pointing. The walls we were to draw on must have been at least thirty feet high; they were opposite each other. LeWitt’s words on the first page of the small catalog described how they were to be used:

"Wall Drawing, 1970  
 Left wall, pencil, four colors
 Right wall, pencil, black only
The draftsman and the wall enter a dialogue. The draftsman becomes bored but later through this meaningless activity finds peace or misery. The lines on the wall are the residue of this process. Each line is as important as each other line. All the lines become one thing. The viewer of the lines can see only lines on a wall. They are meaningless. That is art."

Courtesy of Lyn Horton

I worked on both the right wall and the left wall, within the areas that I could reach. The remaining lines above me were drawn by the male draftsman who worked off scaffolding.

Sol continually guided us. Even though the straight lines of varying length were to be drawn “randomly,” they were drawn according to Sol’s idea of “random.” He would interrupt any one of us when he saw that the lines were being drawn incorrectly. We had to use the pencils given to us in a specific way: our hands needed to be relaxed and the pencils were supposed to float between our fingers. The lines had to be drawn with an even pressure so that the overall surface created had no dark or light areas, showing only moderate density. The walls were meant to have a delicate texture: my interpretation in hindsight.

Into the large gallery in which we worked was integrated a small gallery that bore the same architectural shape as the large one. In the almost elevator-sized space, Sol drew what I consider to be the most gorgeous wall drawing of those early years. It was its first installation. Or so I remember. He had created it for Eva Hesse, who had just died of a brain tumor. The drawing contained parallel vertical lines, not straight, not touching, not long, drawn with black pencil. The impression it gave me was of rain. To this day, I can see in my mind’s eye Sol beginning the drawing on the left side of the space. He could reach the ceiling. The drawing transmitted an unsurpassed intimacy. Probably a description he would not have assigned to it at the time.

We took lunch breaks during the installation process. I remember that I was the only person to go with Sol to lunch, particularly to the luncheon in the museum dining room. We were joined by, then, curator Barbara Haskell and artist David Hockney. It was quite wonderful. Maybe other draftsmen did come, but I was so awestruck by the situation that I can only remember Sol, Hockney and Barbara Haskell.

It took us a full seven-day week to complete the installation. There were only two draftspersons working by the end of that week. I cannot remember the name of the other fellow. Sol asked us both to join him at dinner with Doug Christmas of Ace Gallery in Los Angeles. I have no idea what kind of food we ate or where. I remember that the booth was tight. Doug and Sol sat on one side and the guy whose name I can’t recall and I sat on the other. Sol said to us that he would like to “take” us to dinner. I thought that he meant at another time as well. I said, “Why, thank you, Sol.” Then I realized he meant that he would pay for our dinners that evening.

On another day when we were not in Pasadena, Sol came to my little rented cottage in North Hollywood to see some of my work. He sat in a brown director’s chair and I sat on the floor. I passed one drawing after another in front of where he was sitting. He was mostly silent. At the end of the “showing,” he said: “I like these better than those.” And that was it. I said, “Really?” He nodded his head. I forget which drawings I showed to him.

After his visit, Sol wanted to go to critic Helene Winer’s house in the Hollywood Hills. I drove him and I got lost. Here I was with Sol way across the country from his home in New York City and he directed me out of my lost-ness. Funny. He kept saying, “I don’t remember this area.” I actually argued with him. He won. And I delivered him safely to his destination.

When Sol had returned to New York, he sent drawings to those artists who had helped him. Mine is small: lines of differing lengths, straight, parallel in ink. It was to be the first in my collection of Sol LeWitt pieces of art for which I gave him works of my own. This note, written on a thin piece of rag board, accompanied the drawing:

Courtesy of Lyn Horton

Sol and I corresponded over the years for the rest of his life.  In 1988, I worked on the team to install the ink wash wall drawing at the Williams College Museum of Art. On the first day of the installation of the drawing, he came to view the space chosen for his drawing. When he saw me in a group of people huddled around the staircase where his drawing would go, he said, “What are you doing here?” I replied, “I have come to help install your work.” He said, “Oh, great” and then quietly smiled.

Anthony Sansotta, Sol’s longtime foreman for installation of the Wall Drawings, came to Sol’s side. Both looked at the wall for a moment or two. Sol turned to Anthony and said: “Arcs, twelve inches, starting with yellow, then red and blue.” This is Wall Drawing #559. After lunch at the faculty club that day, Sol and his wife disappeared. I went to work with the crew. It was a blast, all five days of doing ink wash, for which there is also a definite LeWitt technique.

I received an invitation to Sol’s retrospective opening at the Whitney in 2001. I was not going to miss that. This was also the year hell had broken loose for me. After my Mother died in 1999, my husband, now ex, decided to leave and we were in the process of getting a divorce. When I found Sol midst the throngs of people who were attending the opening, I threw my arms around him in a big hug. With sweetness spreading throughout his face, he asked, unexcitedly, “How are you?” Somehow he knew everything that was happening in my life. I certainly had not written him about it. Astonished, I said “I am ok.” Sol said, “One day at a time.” With tears in my eyes, I said good-bye, looking back at him longingly as I walked away to leave the museum.

That was the last time I saw Sol.  But my heart is full with him. He left that much of an impact, I can only imagine, with everyone with whom he associated.

Copyright 2014-16 Lyn Horton
First displayed with my drawing: 70" Square Black & Gold, 2014, exhibited in the show "In The Studio: Artist's Dialogs," California Center for the Arts, Escondido, CA, 2014

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Art Website

Lyn Horton: Art, Image and Words is a new website on WordPress where I am showing only art images, with a few of me thrown in.

On the sidebar of Paradigm For Beauty is also a link to the site.

Let's see how this works out.
Please spread the word.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Resurrection: My Son, My Words

My son, Spence, on Feb 11, 2016, McDonald Dunn Forest, OR
Photo: Patrick Means

On February 11, 2014, my thirty-seven year old son recognized that he needed to become sober. He possessed enough awareness so that he had the capacity to stop, step back and witness how he had been behaving for the years of his youth when his life probably could have blossomed with genius generated activities.  This was one of them.

The pain he had suffered aligned itself coincidentally with the pain I was suffering.


The grief overtaking me came with the loss in divorce of a husband to whom I was married for twenty-five years, the loss of my son who left the house to go as far away from me as possible to find himself, the loss of my domestic cat taken away by a wild night crawling fisher cat, the loss of my mother and father and the estrangement of my brother and my sister as a result of my own choice.

My mother died in 1999 at Roper Hospital in Charleston, SC. I was detached from her death because I did not witness it. I felt it coming though from fifteen hundred miles away at  my house in Massachusetts and called the Episcopalian minister minutes before she died to go to the aid of my father who attended her at her hospital bedside. I flew to be with the family at her memorial. Hundreds of her friends came from her past life in distant places to wish her well. It was a good time. We blessed her passing. It was calm and organized. It was not fraught with terror and anger like my father’s death was.

My father died in 2006. He called me to his side because his “girlfriend” was going to be away for awhile. It was one month to the day I arrived to take care of him that his heart, which had been strengthened in surgery when he was 85 years old, stopped beating, 1:47 AM, June 6. Hospice care intervened in the last two weeks of his life. The hospice nurses appointed me as the hands-on caretaker in their absence. I ushered him into his death. Dad and I did this. Everyone else, except for the nurses, sputtered and spewed and criticized me for how I was handling the caring.  Towards the end, I administered morphine to him in a dropper into the corner of his mouth. It was at that point that every morning after I arose, I peeked into his bedroom where he was lying in a hospital bed, to see if he had died.

The nurses described to me how to determine when his death was near: if I heard a marked change in his breathing, I was to call the nurses. That happened. In retrospect, it was remarkable that I could
hear that his breath changed then about midnight on June 5th. No one else did. The “girlfriend” was patently absent from the scene. My brother hovered. After one of the nurses arrived, she sat on the edge of Dad’s bed. In repeated motions, she used her stethoscope to listen to his heart, listened for the beat to fade away.  I was lying on the chaise opposite Dad’s bed. I could not see his face, only the back of the nurse who was sitting on his bedside leaning into him periodically to listen to his heart. My brother was standing at the other side of the bed. He announced the time of death as if he were doing a sports cast. Sports casting was his job at the time.

Someone called the mortuary. When the undertakers came, a strange question and answer period occurred in the hallway and then they went about their business in the bedroom. The nurse said that neither my brother nor I should witness Dad’s body being removed from the house. My brother and I went to separate rooms.  Somehow though, an image is left in my mind: Dad was in a heavy duty black plastic bag, his body rolled out on a gurney through the short carpeted hallway from the bedroom onto the wooden floor of the room size entrance foyer to the house out the door. I heard the wheels of the gurney roll on the hard wood floor and over the metal tread anchoring the large front door.

The best time I ever spent with my brother was the week after my father died. My brother was hilarious-he told jokes and imitated characters we both thought incredibly funny. We traveled around Charleston preparing for Dad’s memorial a week later and taking care of his personal business with lawyers Dad had appointed as executors of “the estate,” which began a seemingly endless year long nightmare. I let go of everything my brother did to annoy me.

My sister went on her predestined way as an alcoholic. I have not seen her since my father’s memorial. 

Hardly anyone came to the church to honor my father. It was sad really.

The reception afterwards was held at Dad’s house.

My father was cremated. The service to spread his ashes seemed thrown together. When it was time, at my urging, the three siblings handed my father’s ashes from a plastic bag to the tidal creek behind his house. The ashes felt un-soft, textural, gritty. Final and incipient. They drifted slowly in the trickle of water leaving as the tide went out.

It has been my choice to separate myself from my brother and sister. My brother has his own dysfunctional family that I really have no interest in sharing. My sister is like a leech. She comes at me with affection and fond memories of childhood when all she really wants is for me to support her financially and consume and spend together. I would become an accomplice to enabling her addictive personality much less her actual substance abuses.


My son has spilled countless words on his blog relating the story of his becoming sober. His words sometimes are hard to come by for him. I can tell. Yet, he manages to describe horrific, to me, experiences. Each blog entry circles a theme. At first, the theme was surrounded by sentences dipped in anguish, sorrow, regret and the willingness to get out from under a heavy cloud.

How do I poeticize the angst pulsating through my blood after I read his words? As I move through each day.

I am an artist.

I draw lines.

Line after line after line.
Never seeking the right drawing of them.
Merely desirous of seeing them in another phase.
The evolution of the lines is infinite.
I will be absent for infinity. Unless I am determined to meditate through it now. 
Every morning. 
Every day. 
Every aftermath.
Of passing, Loss.

Thorough astonishment at the occurrences in the world.
Thorough disbelief in the rudeness of youth that greets me.

Embedding myself in soft spongy intelligence to escape my own serious human misdemeanors.

Where did my life go?

I can tell the story. Or stories. Of this remembrance or that.
What I cannot tell you is how upset I was the entire time until now.
How upset I am at the false notion that I do not do anything about what I think my situation is.

The pressure not to waste time is at my doorstep.
The pressure to live in the present from every source and angle possible incites my anxiety so that I think that I am not living in the present moment.
That I am not thinking in the present tense.
That I am not happy.
That I need to be somewhere else other than here.

Running the second year in a row for twelve hours.
One for every month he has been sober.
Running in the palm of nature’s hand,
Where he has indoctrinated himself with appreciation of the steps he takes
Of the air he breathes,
Of the preoccupations with dread he is trying to dismiss.
To take the next step.
To move on the dirt path.
Past the pines. 
Over the dropped needles.

My son and I.
Behold the unphotographable.

We rush to nowhere.
Touched by annoyances of the external world, made of numbers generated by computers even if in alphabet form. 
We let go.
Moving away from terrorizing, irritating, head wrenching moments of inflexible constraints of time which are only figments of our imagination.

We do this separately.
We are of the same blood.
We do our lives separately.

The value of this similarity between us will remain forever on into the universe.
The value is in the price of the energy we expend to feel.
To feel. 
To feel. 

Fear nothing. 
He said.
He repeated.
He embraces us.

He or The.
Spirit or Molecules.

All of them things, essences, air.
There. Here. Everywhere.

We go.
We are.
And ever shall be.

Mom and Son.
Son and Mom.
One of the never-ending omnipresent unconditional relationships
That we as humans might identify.

No story cannot be told.


I generate my words as if to reinvent the wheel because although the thoughts I have are already known to the universe, it is I who is thinking them for the first time and in the context of my own life.

In the delivery of the news of Martin Luther King's death to a crowd assembled in support of his run for President, Robert Kennedy quoted Aeschylus:    

“And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart,
 until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

Those words mean something to me: that for the despair that I have felt, that the will to live somehow within the very next actions throughout my days of depression, have I not grown? Have I not overcome that which will bring me down so that I can see into the future of my last days in another location, a source for generating new vision, for capturing refreshed imaginations, for exuding the energy radiating from whatever wisdom I have accrued, not by effort, but by introspection through doing my work, experiencing the silence, exercising quotidian activities towards the moments that will inhabit the next times. The ones I knew not to look forward to but which I knew would come.

My son and I have comfortable conversations now.
The result of the passage of time during which each practices self-made ways of healing and being healthy.

In studio in front of large wall drawing, 2015,
one week after another partner of only five years left.
Photo copyright Lyn Horton, 2015.

Copyright 2016 Lyn Horton

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Time Comes

Artist In Blue Dress in front of 70" Square Drawing Black & White, 2012

When the time comes for change, it is hard to accept.
Too much of me has been decomposing and The Paradigm for Beauty has essentially run dry.

This blog originated with a design that it would last forever, or at least until I left the planet. It was built with the intention that the articles would focus on creative improvised music and all its ancillary conditions. For the most part, my accomplishments have been achieved with an occasional offshoot into my real job which is my visual art and how it is exhibited and created.

But I have to stop writing for the blog because it is imperative that I direct my energies elsewhere.

The page will still exist because every post attracts readers. 

And I might post references from other sources regarding my art from time to time.

Please know, dear reader, that I regret having to write this post, for I have enjoyed the connection. 

I have to engage in the process of re-connecting to myself, discovering new phases of life and loves.

Thank you.  

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Top Ten, 2014

  • Darius Jones, Oversoul Manual, AUM Fidelity;
  • Joe McPhee, Glasses, Corbett & Dempsey;
  • Wadada Leo Smith, The Great Lakes Suite, TUM Records;
  • Chad Taylor & Rob Masurek, Locus, Northern Spy;
  • Jason Roebke Octet, High/Red/Center, Delmark;
  • Matthew Shipp Trio, Root of Things, Relative Pitch;
  • Dave Rempis, Darren Johnston, Larry Ochs, Spectral, Aerophonic Records;
  • Billy Bang & William Parker, Medicine Buddha, NoBusiness Recods
  • Darius Jones & Matthew Shipp, Cosmic Lieder: The Darkseid Recital, AUM Fidelity;

  • Jason Adasiewicz's SunRooms, From the Region, Delmark.
  • Monday, November 24, 2014

    Darius Jones: Oversoul Manual, AUM Fidelity, 2014

    Language involves more than words, spoken or written, acted out or signaled; it defines however information is transmitted. Language is the vehicle for codifying communication processes that lead to a greater purpose. Humans do it. Animals do it. Plants do it. All living beings do it.

    Alto sax player and composer Darius Jones is no stranger to how to shape language. From his very first quasi-autobiographical recording, Man’ish Boy, he has bridged the gap between the real and the imagined and literally made them indistinguishable. It is in the fourth recording that relates directly to the three before it, Oversoul Manual, that Jones is realizing the dream originating with the instrumental Man’ish Boy (AUMFidelity, 2010), continuing with Big Gurl (AUMFidelity, 2011) and Book of Mae’Bul (AUMFidelity, 2012).

    Oversoul Manual (AUMFidelity, 2014) is a step beyond the pure musical adaptation of Jones’ story. It is the magical celebration of the ancient language of Jones’ invention, ɶʃ, “…an empathic language by the Or’genian people.” That celebration conveys the guts of his story. Jones’ creativity envelops an entire culture of love, women, boys, compassion and identification with Universal Truths. For without the latter, how else can the purity of souls be known or even alluded to. Jones, himself, egolessly constructs the epicenter of the culture which penetrates the ether, the netherworld, the alien world, the earth world.

    A group of four women, Sarah Martin, Jean Carla Rodea, Amirtha Kidambi, and Kristin Slipp constitute “The Elizabeth-Caroline Unit.” This “spiritual unit,” as Jones describes it, vocalizes a cappella fifteen verses of ritualistic beauty whose force is directed towards the creation of a child. The music ushers in a process of birthing that happens within Jones’ world, the one that is the implosion of the real and the imagined into one.

    The texture of the vocalization manifests an epitome of harmonics; high and low pitch balance; broken and uninterrupted vibrations; open and closed tones; and singular and unison lines. No verse is translatable, only symbolic. The language is syllabic. No dictionary comes with the recording, because it does not matter.  This glorious, evocative, albeit mysterious continuum of sound projects an enlivening, audibly sensuous, often trance-like roadway to somewhere that is essentially nowhere, which exists exclusively in the heart.

    copyright 2014 Lyn Horton

     Track listing:



    Sarah Martin, voice; Jean Carla Rodea, voice; Amirtha Kidambi,voice; Kristin Slipp, voice.

    Cover Art:
    Copyright 2014 Randal Wilcox

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    Lyn Horton's Work: Interior Designer, Mary Douglas Drysdale: John Lyle Style Blog

    Lyn Horton fills this clean white wall with energy. This cool space was done for DXV, American Standard as part of their new product launch. Humm, like the sound of Mary Douglas Drysdale for DXV…….