Art, J. Paul Getty Museum

The Power of Poetry: 6 Questions for Amber Tamblyn

You may know actress Amber Tamblyn based on her work in TV and film, but she has a few more talents up her sleeve. Tamblyn is also a poet, author, and co-founder of Write Now Poetry Society with poet Mindy Nettifee. Write Now is dedicated to finding ways to connect audiences and readers with great poets, and promotes “heart-breaking, soul-easing, mind-blowingly good poetry that knows a jugular when it sees one.”

This Saturday the Getty welcomes Write Now for a second time—the first was in 2011, captured in the video above—as it presents performances by poetry luminaries in a program called Six Impossible Things. Poets Beau Sia, Corrina Bain, Jack Hirschman, Jennifer L. Knox, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Sonya Renee, and Narcissiter will perform alongside Amber in an evening of poetry inspired by the photographs of Abelardo Morell, now on view at the Getty Center.

I asked Amber to talk a little bit about her love of poetry and its impact on the world.

I was first drawn to poetry when: I heard poet Jack Hirschman read in my parents’ living room. I understood the power instantly, of its sound, rhythm, and story.

Poetry has the power to: Make you feel every human emotion all at once.

I’ll never forget seeing an audience: So quiet during a poem you could hear a pin drop. It was during a poem by a poet named Patricia Smith. She had everyone’s hearts on her tongue. Good poetry can make your blood move. Good poetry and a good performance can transform your entire body.

Art changes lives when: People see what they want to see in it. When everyone gets a completely different meaning out of it.

I give my time to the arts because: It’s what I live for, and I love seeing other people live for it too. The voyeurism of watching others affected by good art is part of what makes us all tick. The giving and receiving.

Without art the world would be: Numb.

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      #ProvenancePeek: Shark Attack!

      Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.

      This dynamic painting of a 1749 shark attack in Havana, Cuba, by John Singleton Copley was too good to paint only once. The original hangs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A second full-sized version of the painting, which Copley created for himself, was inherited by his son and eventually gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

      The third version (shown here) is slightly reduced in size, with a more vertical composition. It resides in the Detroit Institute of Arts.

      A quick peek into the digitized stock and sales books of art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. at the Getty Research Institute shows the sale of Copley’s masterpiece. It was entered under stock number A3531 in July 1946 and noted as being sold to the Gallery by Robert Lebel, a French writer and art expert. The Knoedler clerk also carefully records the dimensions of the painting—30 ¼ x 36 inches, unframed.

      On the right side of the sales page you’ll find the purchaser listed as none other than the Detroit Institute of Arts. The corresponding sales book page gives the address: Woodward Ave, Detroit, Mich., still the location of the museum.

      Watson and the Shark, 1782, John Singleton Copley. Detroit Institute of Arts


      #ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.


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