2011.06.29 Bringing it up for the sake of art

Written by David Green.


What kind of reputation do I have that would cause my sister-in-law Maggie to send an article my way about an artist who vomits on the canvas?

Maggie just knew it would be By the Way material. Oh, come on now. How could I ever approach a subject like that in this space? How could I do that readers? What have I ever written in the past that would give her an inkling of my interest?

Let me just mention that the performance artist’s name is Millie Brown. And let me admit that I watched portions of her 34-minute video. Unfortunately, it was after I’d had breakfast.

The video, “Nexus Vomitius,” is very well done. Millie goes for quality. Dressed in black, she’s seen sitting in a white chair in a white room with a white canvas on the floor. Across the way, there are two women dressed in white and they’re singing opera.

There is color, however. Lined up on the floor are eight very colorful drinks with a straw in each glass.

Millie sits serenely for a time, then goes over and chooses a glass of a yellow beverage, something serving as paint. She takes it back to her chair and slowly drinks some. When she’s had enough, she returns the glass to its place, then kneels above the canvas. Millie calmly studies the space before sticking a couple fingers down her throat.

You can follow it from there without me adding any details. Just picture going from yellow to green to blue to purple, until the painting feels finished. I think it’s just a gut feeling that tells her that she’s done.

Of course there have been a few articles written about her, with headlines such as “Millie Brown vomits to create art” and “Puking up great art.”

It’s an interesting piece of work, but I wonder what it would be like to hang on your wall. And would it really fit in any room but the bathroom?

Honest, I didn’t want to do that to you, dear reader. Blame Maggie.

ANOTHER story from the mouth: A neighbor girl lost her first tooth last week and it reminded me about what a really big deal that is. She pulled it out herself after working at it with her tongue for what probably seemed like forever.

That was always such a tough part for me with a loose tooth: Do I yank it out? Do I let someone else do it for me? Do I resort to the routine of tying a string around it and tying the other end to a doorknob?

Now I’m wondering if that last technique is really used or if it’s just one of those cartoon-like approaches? I have a recollection of actually doing it when I was a kid, although I’m no longer sure if I was the one with the tooth or if I was dental aide. 

It seems as though when the door was slammed shut, the person on the other end ran with it to prevent the act from occurring. I always favored the slow approach. Work at it with the tongue until it finally falls away.

In 20 years, I don’t think the neighbor girl will remember her first tooth coming out. It’s her younger sister who will have the memory of first loss because hers came out in a bicycling accident. Or maybe it was tricycling. Anyway, it takes some trauma to make it memorable.

When I mentioned the neighbor’s tooth to my daughter, Rosanna, she immediately mentioned her contact with the cedar chest upstairs.

“Did that happen to involve the game of Monster?” I asked.

Of course it did. I remember that night. I would chase the kids round and round from room to room and Rozie once tripped. Tooth met wood. I asked my other two kids about their first tooth loss and neither had any memory of it.

THE BIG talk around our house isn’t about the loss of a first tooth, it’s about the arrival of the first. Baby Caroline is chewing, chewing, chewing on everything and everyone as she prepares for the first appearance of a tooth sometime in the future.

She seems to be an incredibly good-natured baby who is just really enjoying her life as a three-month-old. But every now and then the gums get to be a little too much.

She sits serenely for a time... wait, I just used those words to describe Millie Brown. Caroline sits serenely before perhaps a little spit-up emerges. Quick! Get a canvas!

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