Michael C. McMillen’s Art & “Swamp Shrine”- a Poem

Kudos to the Oakland Museum of California- Michael C. McMillen’s exhibit was brilliant and beautifully presented; the best yet! McMillen’s work was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

 Michael C. McMillen‘s exhibit (just left Oakland’s Museum of California) spans 30 years of drawings, paintings, sculpture, giant moving mechanical games, collaged film shorts, and exhilarating room-sized installations.  Many of his detailed scenes were miniatures made for film backdrops. I loved how the museum placed his exhibits variously throughout the entire wing- creating the feeling of discovery every time we happened upon his pieces or film corners.  Both the artistry and presentation were genius.  (Kudos curator- this is the best exhibit ever!)

It was extra fun & inviting with the giant room installations; luxurious enough to enter, walk porch planks, part drapes, peek through doors, wend and touch your way through.

It was visceral, raw and real or completely surreal. It was new at the same time reminiscent of small town USA on a past roadtrip, or something from your grandparent’s life.

It was sometimes foreboding

with death hovering, but often humorously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could write poems for each piece.

One giant installation, “The Pavilion of Rain” could be felt with all senses, and a couple of emotions- from the humidity on your skin, to the feeling of aloneness in a one room house shed, all while suspended over a swamp.  It was easy to judge the exterior.

But then I went back to sit inside on the bench with eyes closed, to hear the frogs & crickets, and feel everything McMillen gave us to feel.

Swamp Shrine

Who knew that rain

falling on corrugated tin

could soothe like this?

My roof-made tympani

whispers stories from afar

sweet rhythms hold me close

in a long embrace.

Even the frogs are silent now

as water dances shadows down

these torn lace drapes.

How can I repay this kindness?

I will stay awake, be

here to welcome inside

the moon, or a drop

of water

-whoever enters first.

 

© Tara Linda

Author: tara linda

musician, poet, jewelry maker

4 thoughts on “Michael C. McMillen’s Art & “Swamp Shrine”- a Poem”

  1. Miss,
    I just simply wanted to tell you that poetry has a way with me as no other literary form. I’m glad it does with you as well. Captivating!

    Kind thoughts

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