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Impatience with illness doesn’t help much.

January 26, 2015

A week with a flu, in which the fever won and dictated how time would pass, was instructive by completely negating any clock or calendar I might have had in my mind.

The experience of time is so changeable, it seems a shame for us to regiment it the way we do. Our lives have so many layers, the one we mostly see between glances at the clock or cell phone is often thin, shallow, pale, bland. It can be fragile.

I have no profound experience to report. But when you can’t leave the house and do any of the usual, the world starts to look different.

I spent some of the time in books. I’d been reading the Deptford Trilogy, so I finished that and then “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” which is a cousin to “Fifth Business” if ever two books were related.

And a new book “The Internet is not the answer,” which title would seem self-evident except for our behavior with said Internet. The author has some interesting things to say, for there is a lot going on behind the Internet curtain than most users imagine.

What does make up the world in which we live? You don’t have to answer, but if you’re inclined, consider participating in this year’s Arts at the Library Challenge Show, titled “Below the Surface.” The call is now officially out …

“Create a mixed media piece that explores what is below the surface. We are interested in what is found behind the scenes and under the table, whether it’s a hidden agenda, a secret inside the story, and/or where the bones are buried in the past or the backyard of your imagination. Use mixed media to your advantage in your exploration of the theme.”

This is from our official call for entries, available at the library or on our website. There are similar instructions for writers and poets. One entry per person.

There are limits in dimensions and word count. Wall art can be no larger than 24×24 inches, maximum outside dimensions. Three-dimensional work must be within 18×18 inches base size and 24 inches in height.

For prose, the limit is 500 words; for poetry, 40 lines. There are submission criteria and deadlines, so be sure to read all the instructions. But you have time. The prose and poetry deadline is April 30, and the visual art drop-off date is May 14.

The show will hang from May 15 to June 30, and it will be on the map as an ArtWalk destination in June. The artwork can be for sale, and the artist will be responsible for handling the sale. The library gets a ten-percent commission on sales from its shows and uses the money to buy art books.

There is no particular encouragement this time for writers and visual artists to collaborate, but it’s certainly not discouraged, either.

I like the theme, “Below the Surface.” We live in a very surfacy world, very slick, very packaged. The screen of an iPhone is magical (but think of what goes on behind it, physically and virtually). Yet many people still feel affection for old things—old walls, old pots, the old painted signs downtown, old books, old people.

Maybe old people. But age provides some of the patina in life and makes for much of the richness below the surface. So consider this upcoming challenge show. You might begin by seeing Ken Brandon’s current display of paintings, to begin thinking about surfaces and layers.

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