The Buzz and the Bittersweet: Sex and Love at the Studio?

By: Bill Whaley
15 December, 2018



Ten Days of Taos Begin Sat. Dec. 22.


(Above artist Georgia Gersh has wisely addressed the voluptuous nature of the Bee Queen without commenting on the dangers of the imagination. Or has she?)


Unlike the Horse Fly, designed to sting and provoke, the Bees, especially one of the “To Bee Or Not to Bee” bees at Studio 107B’s home to art ambrosia, suckle and seduce. On the north side of the Plaza (former home to Ramon’s Room, Living Room, Tano’s Fernandez de Taos bar which served a different kind of nectar), Maye’ follows in the footsteps of Mom, Cecilia’s New Directions gallery and her Grandfather Martinez y Salazar’s “Arcade,” which sold fodder for the mind and sustenance for the spirit and soul. Maye’s studio-gallery concentrates on the sweet effects of sensual beauty that turn the eye upwards as the “corpus delighted” ascends to Natural Goodness (except for those who get stuck along the way, caught for all the wrong reasons in the “honey pots”).

According to the announced “Artist/Patron Solstice Appreciation Party,” on Saturday, December 22, from 3 to 7 p.m., Studio 107B kicks off the older tradition or the “Ten Days of Taos.” The entertainment begin withs a nod to nectar and finishes up on Jan. 2, with the traditional “Lighting of the Luminaria.” As the Luminaria burns up the lament for the deaths of last year, so the Phoenix Rises—the spirit is reborn from the ashes.

At the January 2, 2019 ceremony, the Reverend Ron generally presides, ready at hand with omnipresent green bottles and Price images, reminding us of the pleasures of the sacred and profane Agave-Mezcal, made by Oaxacan Natives but poured out for the multitudes in emulation of transubstantiation for “This is my muse and this is my spirit, liberating me to sing for my supper, dance with my guy or gal, paint the essence of soul, and make the poetry of Tomorrow today’s spirit.” Above the lampposts on the Plaza, Parking Lot Lew winks at Cooper’s incantation.

Caveat: When I saw Anais Rumsfelt’s “Melissa” (the Greek μέλισσα) or goddess of the Bee (above), I thought less of causes and more of elusive Platonic effects. For the artist captures her eyes, which characterize the mood, reinforced by the depiction of the body’s surrender. But a glance at the nipple memorializes imaginative experience, the whole of which laments le petit mort or the bittersweet. `It’s sexy,” said Maye’. So nice to celebrate the sensual idea without falling afoul the sexism of the male artist’s domain (though who can forget Courbet’s “Origin of the World”. Rather I enjoy my own imagination…at Anais and Maye’s instigation.

For Melissa embodies the imaginative effects of “Eros: The Bittersweet,” a concept reviewed and reified (unintelligible made intelligible and concrete) in the poet-classicist’s Anne Carson’s fine report on the Platonic progeny Poros (plenty) and Penia (want); the latter two’s sudden burst of passion begets Eros, according to Diotima in Plato’s Symposium.

For as Diotima tells Socrates, Eros, the lover of (among other things) wisdom, lives half-way between the gods and the human, and so the spirit of imagination turns a twosome into a threesome. Eros, if not love, is also a lament for a lack of possession of the beloved and the absence of happiness, brought together by imagination.

Sappho, ancient lyric poet, first referred to Eros, the “limb loosener” as SweetBitter (Glukupricon). Hence art serves as a caveat and a reminder of the dangers of love, both real and “imagined.” The Greek Word “Glukupricon,” or SweetBitter, has been translated and inverted by use as the illusory bittersweet.

(I also thought of Melissa above as a weird cultural amalgamation of Erotic “Pygmalion” and the transformation a la “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” For I could “buy” her and keep her but forget about the perils of flesh and blood and minding my manners. She might redress me but I could always turn out the lights.)

Ask yourself, how many times a “glance” more imagined than real became the source of experience, discovered later as the connection that turned bitter into sweet, then later sweet turns into bitter, so reminiscent of Dante’s words: “Possession is one with loss.”

And at the rear of the gallery by the counter (once a bar) on the left is a small Wagner “Bee” (not pictured here but purchased three times over by the benedictions of the Red Dot world) subsequently proving that the once and future “moribund” artist be absolutely alive and well, while setting aside chicken scratch and Magpie mantras in favor of the “Bee” to be.

Multitudes of neophytes and professionals have produced variations on the theme of the “BEE” in this imaginative, let us say “lightly entertaining show” at Studio 107B. The sting somehow feels good.