Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Patti Smith @ the Smithsonian Archives of American Art


"I felt I should be able to do something at the Smithsonian, being a Smith." - Patti Smith

Smith was at the Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium at the Smithsonian's Archive's of American Art this past weekend, in promotion of a new book the Archives are publishing, With Love, a collection of letters between artists and their loved ones.

The letters, which ranged from funny to quirky to heartbreaking, discussed love by way of art, or art by way of love. The letters she read were all notable, but it was her asides and introductions that really made the evening. Like the way she described the artist Joan Mitchell, before reading her letter to lover Michael Goldberg. "Certain broads just know how to smoke a cigarette. I know we're not supposed to admire it." That particular letter was read with such personal, casual colloquialism that it sounded as if Smith herself had written it. "I'm drinkin' the beer you left me on the winah' sill. And I'm kissin you. I do this all the time." As you might expect, she discussed letters as a lost art — their beauty being in their "paper, the handwriting, the little drawings." The handwriting that conveys the sorrow or energy of the authors. She said, "I know they can be burned... but they can't be deleted."
Sounds like the perfect Valentine Day's gift for your literary sweetie.

Amanda Mattos' full article is well worth the read. As I said in my comments over at the DCist site, reading it made me wish I had been there.

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