Old friends sit around a picnic table in a pocket park in Pilsen. I ride up on my bike. It’s a few minutes before the dance class is to start. Wendy has been leading them out here a few years. Pieces of particle board are spaced a few inches apart to give dancers the chance to tap, stomp, and click their flamenco shoes. But I’m not here to dance; I’m here to draw.
Capturing motion on a flat, static surface is a challenge. It’s a thing I’m always conscious of when putting marks on paper. Even if the subject is a stack of books sitting on a shelf. Because even inanimate objects move due to incremental changes in light and the scanning moves of my eyes, every small tilt of my head, when I slouch or sit up straight. Nothing I look at is ever frozen or static.
As Wendy puts her charges through their paces, I look at the buildings and foliage past them and the slow-floating clouds as often as the dancers. The shapes they carve through space by their moves expand and contract everything in my field of vision.
I haven’t used the markers in awhile. It’s the same set I used for CTA drawings four years back. Some have dried out and died. I throw the cashed ones down on the grass by my bench and dig through the old lady purse for subs and replacements. The colors never quite match what I see but they never can. It’s only ever a crude approximation, just as the marks I make are only vague analogues for the motion before my eyes.
Afterwards, the dancers gather to look at my efforts. Each points at clusters of marks to find themselves. Which one is me? They want to know. I haven’t disengaged from the mind-space required to do this work so I have no answers for them. I won’t even when the spell wears off, but then I can lie about it or come up with some pat, placating answer. But not yet. It’s not for words. No pinning it down any more than any chance to make anything or anyone sit still.