Zahradní Ateliér / Garden Atelier



Lewis Gesner /USA/ Mobius Boston

Vaclav’s Workshop, Kromeriz, Czech Republic

April 13, 2010

Tags: city and poetry | czech | forfest | kromeriz | lewis gesner | Vaclav



Carry with me now in Asia

Places topics block out space

Inside the head – and mine is

Full except, some space inside

Has fallen through like boards

A rot the center of the floor-

So are my memories connected to my now-

Foundations I deepened, a vertebrae perhaps

That I must take a leap across to stand

And so the structure of what holds me- is the same-

And so, I jump about- and make my way, so

Not to fall

Into a hole---


Approach from Prague

Prague in June

Was hot in day but night

Falls, hard

And cold, and heavy rain

Like rain would never stop

And fog like I had heard of Prague

On that- first visit,

Lost among a hedge and living maze

Inside a cloister in a rain from heaven and from hell

But, that was Prague

And with its gilded towers, and its golden clock

And patina men across the great bridge and mass of buildings

All along its water ways

Its subway, too, buses, and the train- away descend

Dark underground, to find the way, to steady

Lasting, God made man and man made Czech train-

Solid, moving, arm of God, and steel, and, sustaining, like

A horse

Too long, slow hours steadily across into the

Heat and forest village rain again, and fall of night-

And last, I am

The single passenger who leaves the train

Will never stop in Kromeriz, decided long ago-

Indirect, and difficult a way, no train stops

In Kromeriz-

It is

A local assent-

A stop outside of Kromeriz-

It is, so late, I took a later train

And now, is dark and wet and late, and one more

Local, maybe I can catch- it is on one of those tracks-

In two hours-

At the train station, outside Kromeriz- I am alone- but for

There is an insane blind man- his beard is long, and white, and he is thin

He hears me, hears the coins I put into a coffee machine- and,  with a blind confidence

He flies to me- and speaks, and when I utter English he can hear,

I do not understand, and so he talks and yelps and whispers- all the more

And becomes like a prophet, and focuses his cloudy white eyes on the top of my head

And I try to move, but he stays in step and moves, predicting when it is

That I will try to step away- his long thin hair is like a part of homeless wear, no time

To tend to self, but always watching (sensing) out, out of the self, a shirt

Maybe is it blue? With chest hairs poking through between the buttons-

An open button up sweater, old, tattered, checkered black and white

And thinnest line of food that follows in a flow, along a crease

From chin to corner of his mouth and even as he speaks some prayer or curse to me

I see a leer, as if he knows that I am looking at him too

And seeing maybe less than him-

I find a tunnel – underneath the ground, it passes

To the rails that send you different ways

-to spend the time of waiting, I will walk, from side to side-

and as I do, the blind man as a bat that knows his way, will follow me

and take no time accustoming himself to darkness there

so he is catching me, and punches my chest

with his boney, accusing finger- sucking up my pity

with my discomfort, and spitting it out, into my face-

yet, here I stand, and face him, and I find, no harm

comes- it is as if- it is only darkness, and, this

is just a ghost- and I have been by now-

out in the world, and darker places, and in my own world too

and Asia, and Europe, and North -  I have been flying, so that it seems

the bat man seeks to stir my primate

fear of night

but, my brain waves have come flat to this

he should see

how blind I am to him-

and so I wait the time, and try to evade

for mere discomfort

this dramatic scene

like local drama

on a makeshift canvas stage

and as the last of night

and local train arrives

- I see it come for years

a pin of light and moving

and, through the fog-

the blind man fades

I see him, in a straight and narrow line

Walking backwards to the street and out a hill that eats him-

And the train is like an empty stomach

And, it moves slowly like digestion

Through the shortest spanse

To Kromeriz-

So, twice I went, so, I blend two visits now,

To fiction it to make more perfect

Two years apart, and choose best for this from the two-



Arrive- spit out the train car

Is all gone underneath a stone arch people empty

Rain on stone and running water pouring into grates

And down this wall as has been done

Before my years and standing where

Many in their daily lives to work and to their home

Have waited in a silence of their own-

Another dark, another waiting-

And now, I can reflect, as even I remember

Mine is much as beautified as real, and I remember

As the traveler, while, a memory lives here

I will never know-, massed and deep and even

My blind man knows

But thinking now, I know how vain I was and am

To not embrace the things I know-

Could I walk, but I am lost, or tired, and

I wonder, which direction do I go from here-

Street to street, left right

A lone light, a headlight passing and I wave

It stops, a cab- from arch to car

And I am waterlogged, and “square”

I say, and soon, I see familiar streets- (this memory, I have been before)

And then

A waterfountain I think it was, a dark mass

Above the ground in white fog, backlight

From streetlights? I am in

Kromeriz- thank you car, and here, is money- gone, like boat on styx –


There, I see a hanging sign adjacent to me, is it- Museum?

I look, I can, almost see the other side, of the square,

The rain is driving fog back into ground, I see

The border, all around, and at my feet, the stone

The squares, I know, town square, long lived, stone-

I carry bag in hand and back bag- I find a restaurant I recall,

And ask, a hotel – I am unsure, so this will do – I am tired –

And as I move across the square, a wind circles me, and increases rain but it is just a game

Because, I arrive.

A hotel and a shower and a change of clothes

That somehow are not wet

The hotel restaurant and bar, and I am sitting

With a mug of Czech beer- and my wet hair

Combed straight back and tied, and I arrived

And look across the room, and hear CZ and see

Some faces that I know- and as they rise

To leave, I call a name and wave to one

Who stops and says my name, as if a question-

Yes, I think, it is who I am, here-

It is late now, but, it has been as late for longer, as

The night comes early and is quiet here

Candles kerosene electric light no matter

Still, the wax and wane of time like from a storyteller’s heart-

Prevails and

Buildings are the same

And the stone in streets, the castle and the grounds, the gardens

Cathedrals, rising is seems on every corner of a block-

Attest to strength and lasting things, and pattern and

The conservation of time-

Daytime, I will leave, and find my way, for why I came

Art and music spill from here to Olomouc

There is a festival, one full, resonant

With love of sound and art and time and place

And human life and statement in the grand

Caught up in some greatness-

From back to now, to forward, it is a spirit festival

Forfest like a forest in where all the elements be

A forest, like the chateau grounds, and fields and pavilions it contains-

Where some will come, from here, or far

Perform, in forum, meet

And, make this context and then

Showing value, not a sterile thing

But thought expressed shows art that bridges all

And first of it, it is

Of time

And here, like something stopped

To show

How strong is place

How strong is art.

And each one brings the core

Of who and what they are, and those who come

And come again-

Affix to something here, or find

A spot within it, them

To own and speak through

Makes a living thing-

..and elders of the art and young

confer on substance and topic

in the chateau halls and at


new experiencing given in

a setting of the continuity-

and young gain from this socket in to arts veins-

overseeing stately and lovingly and still with mystery

Vaclav and Zdenka see, for years these gatherings

Like ritual, a flow of vapor passing

And showing in all these aspects-




Vaclav’s Workshop

And I, my place-

What brings me-

In my work, I wish to shed some light

On what I see ignored

Of matter, and of sound

And what both wish to do and be

For us to act, and live-

And I will bring, or search out things

With which to act, and to behave-

And this is my art, and in Kromeriz,

I would find, some streets and sticks,

And brick, and other matter waiting to be moved

I come early once, prepare, and live in Vaclav

And Zdenka’s house-

A place so rich with flow of life and continuities

If I am open I would overwhelm –

Of Zdenka’s music, and a violin, and pedagogy

And, her dumplings, CZ are different from Taiwan

And I think, Zdenka’a all her own –

A painter, Vaclav’s studio

Its where I slept, inside their home-

Painting dark and swirl

With powers and color speak

A long and deep sight-

Overcome by power, I would

Look, and feel the presence-

But not to meet it- only

See, and know and when great

Artists come, and speak, and compose-

Where would I adapt, I wondered-

Attaching to the house, a little shed, was Vaclav’s

Workshop- seeing it, I lost breath-

Of some wood, and framing things,

But tools, for many things an artist

Uses, and he makes, of other ilk –

A master who will tinker too,

In many things, and Zdenka too, to garden,

Tools and pots-

Expression,  coming into

Everything they do, and here,  this

Workshop filled with tools and pieces- rich golden nuggets of pure matter-

I said, myself, this is my kernel

My kernel of Kromeriz, I would meet Kromeriz

Through these things-

The walls were covered by a thousand hooks

Each holding a working tool, so new,

Some old and rusted in their use, containers holding clips and screws and nails in boxes

Buckets, wire, hoes and spades and garden tools, and pieces from unfinished things

And left behinds from others done – that spilled out onto the floor, and boards and sheets of things,

And even there a cage, a hamster watched me as I watched- and piles of hay for him-the shed was singing

In a vibrant silence

Singing for a song-

Outside, flowers grew in abundance

Both loosely and in ordered rows

But here, was a heart, from where

Their plan was hatched-

And maybe also were

The things that held the canvas

I see in squares

And order of their chaos –

And abyss-

The heart itself, depicting time-

How strange, I thought, to look- and now, engage!

Approaching, I assumed, the

Mastery, and confidence, and, humility

To make a workshop speak, and sing-

Its life as second from its users-

Like a child that’s born of application

And utility, but also, love of acting out

Of living, day to day, a workshop-

Approach, and make it sing!

I bought a ball of string, and had

My scissors

I placed a wooden chair in center

And began to tie a string to each

Thing I could see- and ran the string

To chair, and cut the length- for

Some hours-

I prepared-

I cut my strings, attached to bolts and nuts

And hammers and pieces

Of the wood, and tools I didn’t  even recognize

And flaps that hung, and sheets of matter, and to handles

I could move, and

Knobs and any thing-

And expectation

Theirs and mine, of to perform

To play the room, the workshop

As a drum, or flute, or trumpet- to tune and make an orchestra

A celebration of each single voice that we might add0 to tell symphonic

Stories of the purposes and age and time passed in pursuit of making

Making with the substances of active life- my  sectioned order of themselves

Under my eye, of where to tie and lead with string, and how to introduce

Each thing- and see, how best its voice would fit

Into a whole


In an order against the silence

And through the

Open door, like

Sound hole on the

Sound box of a music thing

And time came

Artists and composers came

And I sat in my chair

And artists crowded at the door

And I began to pull the hundreds strings

That met me at the chair

And from the first, each thing rose and fell

Or moved toward me, telling how it lived and worked in Kromeriz

And the care it took, to make what’s made with each of these

One was stately, maybe, was a spade, - that rose and fell by its handle

And then sang and rung a metal tone as it fell down against the wall-

A hammer pulled made a thump as if a heavy Chinese drum-

A slow at first, to leave resounding space

But, they grew impatient, and began to

Voice before another’s end, and took

To orchestrate themselves-

And so, I pulled and played my part-

But like conductor too, I tried to hold them back

And make a democratic thing

Where each was part in its own turn

In daily life, and sang it so-

And in the end, when all had sounded,

Some together, some alone and in an order,

It was done, and Kromeriz

Had been said

By Vaclav’s workshop

And I had said it, too

From in its very center

And I felt that

Now I know Kromeriz

Now, I know, the place-



And now as I am flung, I find Kromeriz and, too,

Vaclav’s workshop far afield

And in Taipei, I sounded it again,

And then I will, in many places again,

As each is rich with what

It has and holds

And I find

Vaclav’s Workshop

Is in every space

I put myself into-

And if I stay for long

In every other thing and place

Kromeriz is.

In 2010, Festival Forfest goes into its 21rst season as the premier festival of contemporary and new art and music in Eastern Europe. Drawing artists from around the world, each year, they converge on Kromeriz, in the Czech Republic, meet, (branching into Olomouc and Bratislava) present new work in music and art, and exchange from their collective knowledge in an uninhibited pursuit of the spirit of creation. Under the directorship of Vaclav and Zdenka Vaculovic from its birth, this festival grows each year in influence, depth, and purpose.


Written by : Lewis Gesner
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