Ron Meyers, A day in the life – 7 Memories of Terry Fox & Worpswede

Los Angeles, November 2014

1. On first arriving at Terry’s studio, I can see he’s been busy. It looks like there are 3 stunning, brand new sculptures sitting on the radiator pipes under the windows: 3 bulky rectangular blocks of peat, with skins of pale green velvety moss, 2 of them having small objects on top (one a striped, coiled snakeskin; the other a leaf, attached to a twig with 2 berries, that resembles a standing figure). „Wow, Terry (I say), these are beautiful!“ Terry says: „No, that’s not art, those are just something personal. I have something else in mind.“

2. Worpswede is like some sort of dreamland, with lush Birch forests, vast emerald-green moors, soggy peat bogs, rolling hills, and canals. And the architecture is something out of the Brothers Grimm (just look at the Kaseglocke!). But once you step into his studio, you enter a place and a space only Terry Fox could have designed. His personal touch is everywhere. In the center of the floor, on a large white drawing table, are spread dozens of 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of typing-paper arrayed in 3 rows of 8, layer upon layer, each sheet flush against the next, each almost black with typewritten quotes on the subject of shadows, gathered over several years from sources in poetry, fiction, science, and the internet (and to me, seen in this way, with no spaces in-between, they themselves form one, large, gorgeous drawing). Hanging on the walls are ink drawings, pencil drawings, a spindly branch, and a variety of other objects found on the Moor. On the floor, against the walls, are 3 or 4 tables filled with rolls and rolls of all kinds of paper, next to shelves crammed with books, next to cabinets full of paints, and tools, and T-squares. Yet the result–the vibration, the feeling–is not a crazy, cluttered mess, but a beautiful and harmonious whole. A sense of grace lingers in the air. Everything Terry touches turns out this way.

3. (The Alarm-Clock Routine): „Ron, wake up, it’s 8 o’clock.“ I am startled out of a disoriented, jet-lagged, quasi-sleep by Terry’s voice, surprised to find that he is standing beside my bed like a giant alarm-clock. (Again): „Ro-o-on, it’s 8 o’clock. Up and at ‚em, rise and shine.“ He won’t move until I agree to get up. Though I find it a bit annoying at first, Terry repeats this EVERY morning at 8. The exaggerated repetition of this routine transforms it into something hilarious. I’d say humor is a cornerstone of Terry’s very existence, and our days are filled with jokes, and puns, and a gentle, gentle sarcasm that can only be bantered between best friends.

4. (The Ritual): A daily pattern for establishing a working momentum: Up at 8 sharp. Museli and yogurt with coffee for breakfast. Van Morrison’s „Astral Weeks,“ or Bob Dylan’s „Time Out of Mind,“ or Ustad Ali Akbar Khan’s „Ragas“ on the boombox. Reading books and taking notes. Experimenting with materials. Joking, joking, and joking some more. And most important, come rain or come shine is the pilgrimage to Cafe Central in the heart of town: „Zwei latte macchiato, danke!“ Terry has always used cafes as a tool, as an extension of his studio. But a studio can get cramped, and when it does, it’s high time for a long stroll to the cafe. A handy place to disappear in public, to observe and absorb. To distract the mind and order the thoughts. To re-arrange plans and spark new ideas. Nourishment. Cafe Central as an umbilical cord linking the studio with the outside world.

5. (Ephemera):
a) When you walk with Terry, be prepared to slow-down. He moves at the pace of a window-shopper. He examines EVERYTHING in sight. Sometimes he spins around and re-traces his steps: start & stop, stop & start, start & stop.
b) You’ll never see Terry’s hands stuck in his pockets, or linked behind his back: „That’s a gesture of submission, hiding your hands“(he says).
c) The sound of his ever kind, gentle voice on the telephone: „Hi, Ron,this is Terry.“
d) Two of his favorite words: buddy, and pal.
e) Knowing that I fear spiders, but not wanting to murder the large, grey, pregnant specimen clinging to the corner of the wall above my pillow in my bedroom, Terry has an elegant solution: he hides it from view behind a screen of curved paper, taped to the corner.

6. (Der Spaziergang): I can no longer recall why, but a desire to take a long walk comes over us. Exercise? Fresh air? Restlessness?
On the edge of town is a path which winds like a narrow sandy ribbon up, up, and over the huge hill called the Wayerberg. We take a few steps, then some more, and we are on our way.
We have been climbing for over an hour. Look how small the town seems already!
The sun is, perhaps, a bit too warm, and it’s true we have no water, but aren’t we glad we came here?
„How far are we going? Where are we?“ (I say). „I have no idea,“ (says Terry). „I’ve never walked here before.“

7. (Shadow Drawings: „For Worpswede“): After months of gathering research on the subject of shadows, and months of experimenting with various materials, Terry makes an elegant decision: he will draw (or track, or trace, or map, or trap) the outlines of shadows cast by 2 sunlit objects (a three-armed candle-holder, and a tall hourglass); 7 drawings in all.

He will draw the border, the threshold, between what is not there (sunlight) and what is there (the absence of light: the shadow).

This work embodies a deep mystery: is darkness a kind of material, or is it the absence of material? Or, is something that can be seen, be (at the same time) something that is not really there

Because the sun is moving through space, and the earth is both orbiting the sun and spinning like a top, a shadow produced by sunlight is like a slowly moving target, never quite still for very long. Drawing a precise outline of this moving shadow is a physical strain, and requires intense concentration.

You can see the evidence of Terry’s concentration in the lines he has drawn. If magnified, they would look something like the recordings of a seismograph during a mild earthquake, with a myriad of flats and spikes, or valleys and peaks.
Magnified, the lines of Terry’s „Shadow Drawings“ show the quaking of the nerves, the breath, and the pulse of the artist coming into play as the work is made.

(For: INPUT/OUTPUT – Schnittpunkt Worpswede, Worpsweder Museumsverband e.V., 2014.)