Oyster Boy Review 13  
  Summer 2001
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Cappellazzo & Licata's In Company: Robert Creeley's Collaborations

Jeffery Beam

Robert Creeley, a poet with an innate capacity to seamlessly integrate intelligence in metaphor has throughout his notable career practiced collaboration with visual artists of equal stature. Those fortunate enough to see this recent traveling exhibition experienced firsthand the "locus (Creeley) inhabits and investigates, a way for him to explore the shifting relationship between 'I' and 'he,' the subjective and the objective." This comment from John Yau's essay resonates throughout the other essays in the catalog as well as in the beautifully reproduced images from the show.

The catalog, and the show it represents, documents the stunning and exhilarating power of visual, literary, and publishing arts to create layers of experience and dialogs between modes of communication. Artists such as Georg Baselitz, Francesco Clemente, Jim Dine, Robert Indiana, R. B. Kitaj, Marisol, Susan Rothenberg, and Elsa Dorfman have joined Creeley in these experiments with form and image. The catalog includes statements from the artists that elucidate Creeley's sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and genius as a poet and collaborator, and appreciator and "reader" of visual language.

The reproductions and documentary photos (including superb early photographs of Creeley by frequent Oyster Boy contributor, the poet, publisher, photographer, and essayist Jonathan Williams) offer stimulating looks at the show's lovely, engaging, technically adventurous, and oftentimes tender works. As integral as the conversations are between Creeley's words and the visual works, each stands alone as challenging and compelling works of art: "If I had thought / one moment / to reorganize life / as a particular pattern, / to outwit distance, depth, / felt dark was myself / and looked out to me, I / presumed. It grew by itself." (from Life & Death, a collaboration with Francesco Clemente)