So many artists have warm and heartening stories to share about Carl Belz. He was, after all, a larger than life figure in the Boston area. Some studied or worked with him at Brandeis University when he was the director of the Rose Museum. Others were championed by him in that solid, authentic way that he wrote about art he respected, art that he loved to look at and live with.
My friendship with Carl began in 2010. We struck up a writing exchange and discovered a slew of common interests. I have hundreds and hundreds of pages of our explorations in the visual arts, art criticism, contemporary culture, music, sports, our families. During that time we did a book proposal project and worked on getting all of his art writing digitized and catalogued. There were the intermittent visits to his aerie in New Hampshire, but our connection was primarily through written words.
He was an artist’s kind of writer, someone whose sensibilities were so tuned in to the interior experience of art making. He could listen rather than pronounce, soften into a work rather than bristle against it. I could always count on him to find the very words my artist sensibilities would have liked to have found but so often fell short of finding. He spoke eloquently for so many of us who were unwilling to give sway to the drift towards art that was cool, detached and ironic. His passing this week has left me bereft. There will never be a replacement for this man.
Paintings I really like I think about living with, like the paintings of Ronnie Landfield and Sandi Slone and Darryl Hughto. The worlds they take me to are generous and accommodating, pleasured by art that is meaningful in and of itself, art that is justified simply by being, like nature. I like to think there’s room in my own lived world—even in the lived world at large—for that kind of experience. I share Matisse’s dream of “an art filled with balance, purity and calmness…a spiritual remedy…for the businessman as well as the artist”—even though I’m no businessman or artist myself.
To read my previous posts about Carl:
The Carl Belz Archive on Slow Muse